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The rate at which the formal Occupy movement has taken off has been quite startling.  One reason, no doubt, is that there was already a consensus among people who, as a general rule, manage to occupy themselves with productive and useful endeavors, that something was seriously out of whack and concluded "enough is enough."  But, while the consensus was there, what's out of whack has been harder to identify. The banksters had obviously commandeered one of the essential tools of commerce and enterprise, money, but, for most basic transactions, the absence of money is not an insurmountable impediment.  After all, multiple civilizations have flourished without money or reading materials being widespread. Something else has to be throwing our economies out of whack.

That "something else," I've been suggesting, is the middlemen -- the horde of people who sit at the nexus of exchange and trade and, like bears going after salmon or the toll-taken on the turnpike, exact a profit for themselves without adding any value. But, I don't think that's quite right. Middlemen tax profits, but they don't interfere with the production process.

The people who do that, I now think, are the incompetents, whose numbers may not be increasing, but their influence certainly has. Incompetents are people who don't work.

Some people are not capable of work.  That is they are practically incompetent (all thumbs, stupid hands) and need someone to work for them. The fortunate ones are endowed with the gift of gab, which lets them cajole or coerce their sustenance from those who can work.  The less endowed have to resort to theft and end up in prison where sustenance is provided without question.

Preachers and politicians are incompetents. Not only are they obviously endowed with the gift of gab, but they have an apparently infinite capacity to look foolish without being ashamed, which keeps them from shutting up.  Knowing no constraint, they just keep demanding until somebody decides "enough is enough."

Which is what Occupy is about.  And which is why we are seeing preachers and politicians coalescing in the Republican primary process. If Occupy is a success and people's basic needs are met, what will the incompetents use as a threat to coerce sustenance for themselves?

Why must it be coerced?  I suspect it's simply because they're greedy.  Modest incompetents get along quite well just being agreeable and complimentary.  Think of the gigolo and the bimbo.

Originally posted to hannah on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 02:43 AM PST.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, and Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why are some incompetents relentless? (3+ / 0-)

    Because they're obsessed. Commanding can be habit forming.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 02:42:42 AM PST

    •  Following those who crush us must be addictive (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hannah

      behavior also..
      The captive followers do most of the dirty work.

      "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones."

      "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

      by roseeriter on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 03:02:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True. Some people are addicted to doing. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jcrit, roseeriter

        There was a post on Like the Dew the other day entitled "Compelled Cooking."
        http://likethedew.com/...

        The thing is, since doers are addicted to doing, there's bound to be a surplus for the incompetent to share.  So, the coercion is actually unnecessary to begin with.

        Think of how many pets Americans feed and yet there are malnourished children.  I think the culture of obedience, which relies on "no free lunch" to coerce compliance, is to blame.

        People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

        by hannah on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 03:35:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Preachers and politicians are incompetents"? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jcrit, VClib

    Including Martin Luther King and Franklin Roosevelt?

    I thought the best preachers remind us of how ethics apply in daily life and the best politicians write laws that cause the government to make life better.

    Your argument might be strengthened if you painted with a less broad brush.

    •  "Practically incompetent"-- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      luckylizard

      i.e. people who are not able to make things or transform the environment creatively.  

      It's not a broad brush.  It's quite specific.  They are all thumbs but can talk a good game.

      Persuasion is a good venue for them because they can talk.  

      It used to be said "those who can, do; those who can't, teach," but that strikes me as unfair.  More accurate is that "those who can't, preach."

      People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

      by hannah on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 03:50:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do books and speeches... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, HamdenRice

        ...no longer count as things that are made?

        Are those whose talents are in working with words and philosophies "practically incompetent"?

        Are you seriously denying that Dr. King "transformed the environment creatively," simply because he preached and taught and wrote and stood for human rights instead of building furniture?

        Are the only valuable people those who spend their lives physically manipulating their environment?

        You can't claim not to be using "a broad brush," and then judge as worthless—and "incompetent" is certainly that judgment, let's not deny that—everyone who makes a life for themselves through words.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 04:54:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, incompetent people are not (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          luckylizard

          worthless.  Whom would competent people provide for if there weren't people to care for?

          In a world of give and take, somebody has to be willing to receive.  What's not helpful is extorting more than you need.

          Not all incompetent people are extortionists.  Moreover, until the advent of electronic communications, people who could remember and recite and repeat valuable information provided a useful service.  Incompetent people can be not only worthwhile (even entertaining), but useful.  Letting them set the agenda for doers is not helpful. You know, like a diner telling the cook how to cook.

          People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

          by hannah on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 05:55:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You have a narrow view of "competence." (0+ / 0-)
            Whom would competent people provide for if there weren't people to care for?

            In a world of give and take, somebody has to be willing to receive.  What's not helpful is extorting more than you need.

            Are you suggesting that those who do things with words, who talk about or work with or promote ideas, are nothing but "receivers," and don't contribute anything at all? That they are simply being "provided for" by the competent people?

            Wow. You are seriously disrespecting the work of a number of people—not all of whom are members of the banking class you seem to be angry at.

            Not all incompetent people are extortionists.  Moreover, until the advent of electronic communications, people who could remember and recite and repeat valuable information provided a useful service.
            People who can remember, recite, manipulate, and work with words provide a useful service even today, after electronic communication.
            Incompetent people can be not only worthwhile (even entertaining), but useful.
            Then they are competent. That they are competent at something you apparently don't value at all, doesn't make them incompetent; it makes them people who produce in a way that is different from the way you'd prefer.
            Letting them set the agenda for doers is not helpful. You know, like a diner telling the cook how to cook.
            No, it's more like the state health board telling the cook that he or she has to cook meat to a certain temperature, keep things refrigerated, keep the kitchen free of pests, etc. The state health board person is "incompetent," by your framework, since he or she makes nothing him- or herself—but his or her work is what enables us to go to a restaurant and be reasonably sure that we won't be poisoned by the food we order.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:59:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  How Do You Know They're Incompetent? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JamesGG

        Just because the economy is productive enough that they have the choice to talk for a living doesn't mean they can't produce for one.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 05:36:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Since the beginning of human history, 2 things: (0+ / 0-)

        People have been willing to support other people to tell them stories and spark their imaginations (preachers) including making cave paintings or dances with animal skins that both re-enacted what had happened and helped people imagine how to do things better.

        People have been willing to delegate to a third person certain decisions in the interest of fairness (politicians).  I remember reading with fascination about the "leopard skin chiefs" of northeast Africa.  There were regular chiefs who commanded kin groups and villages, but there were also these strange chiefs who wielded no discernible political power who were even more respected.  It was because they were objective and any people with disputes or who were trying to make a trade would submit their issues to the leopard skin chiefs because they gained reputations far and wide as fair and objective.

        I think you are dismissing things that are essential to being human, that are extremely productive in their own ways.  

        If all we did was make stuff to eat, then we wouldn't be much different from the other animals.

  •  How is this any different... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, hannah, HamdenRice

    ...from the rhetoric of the right wing, save in its target?

    They, too, believe there is a large segment of society that is inherently worthless, fundamentally incapable of producing anything value, who are leeching off the efforts of others because they are inherently unable to do anything else.

    They attack the working class, the low-income, those who rely on society's help to get by, by suggesting that by their very nature they're lazy wastrels who leech off of the hard-working "job creators"; you attack anyone who doesn't "work with their hands," suggesting that each and every one of them is by their very nature incapable of contributing anything useful and leeching off the work of those who make things with their hands.

    But the message I'm seeing is the same: "These people are inherently parasites, leeching off the useful and productive people in society." And like the right-wing's rhetoric, the logical end of your argument is the same: "Our society would be better off if such people were no longer allowed to exist within it."

    So tell me how exactly your argument is different?

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 05:01:36 AM PST

    •  Indeed, talkers are good at repeating (0+ / 0-)

      what they hear.  That's why it's good to listen to them.
      That incompetents don't recognize their own deficits is merely a consequence of them being unaware and clueless.

      People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

      by hannah on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 05:58:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I love how you simply assume... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that anyone who doesn't make a living working with their hands is inherently incapable of doing it.

        It's really quite fascinating.

        I garden and build things in my spare time, as a hobby—certainly not enough to live on, but as an activity to do for fun. I'm capable at both of these things—and if I spent my days making a living at them, I'd likely be much better.

        However, my job is working with words, writing things for clients, shuffling electrons around, doing research—the kinds of things you label as tasks done by the "incompetent," by those who are inherently unable to produce things. To your mind, if I were capable of "producing" like a "competent" person, I'd be doing that rather than doing an "incompetent" person's job.

        So you're offensive two times over—once for presuming that the work done by those who don't produce physical things is pointless, and again for presuming that those who don't produce physical things for their work aren't capable of it.

        You really need to examine your assumptions.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:05:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's Easy to Identify, Society Opposes Identifying (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah

    What's out of whack is that in an economy that can produce gigantic rewards for top ownership and management, we allow most of such rewards to be kept no matter how great.

    That creates a casino economy in which the rich can quickly detach themselves from dependence on the well-being of society and even their own enterprises. They immunize themselves from negative consequences of their decisions.

    Greed is merely appetite, everyone has it, and virtually everyone's greed is kept in check by culture and society. But at the top end of advanced economies, the ability to gain from greed is beyond rational individual coping, and heavy government limitations on business, finance and individuals is needed to prevent those rewards from driving our top leadership sociopathic.

    For 35 years both parties have eliminated those brakes, allowing the rich to destroy society. They still support that policy. There's been no voice in the mainstream either explaining what half a century of application of those brakes had been, what it had accomplished, or why they are needed.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 05:45:36 AM PST

    •  I suspect that the seven deadly sins, (0+ / 0-)

      of which greed is one, are obsessive manifestations of natural impulses.

      Yes, greed is the desire to acquire and satisfy hunger taken to excess.  Much as lust is the desire to associate taken to excess and perhaps even frustrated.  Envy, for example, also seems to be partly the result of frustrated imitation or adulation.

      People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

      by hannah on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 06:01:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Also, what % of occupiers work with their hands? (0+ / 0-)

    I get the impression that a lot of them are students or recent former students and that they have mostly been trained for "symbolic work" just as much as "preachers and politicians" and most seem to have been trained in the liberal arts.

    Or are the vast majority of people in the occupy movement carpenters, plumbers, seamstresses, and farmers?

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