On an intellectual level, I'd like every
human being to be happy, healthy and wise, and I do what I can
in my own small way to contribute to moving the world in that
direction by championing reason, freedom, and personal
But I don't let my emotions get involved.
I never envy anyone who has more than I do
and therefore, I figure I don't have to expend a lot of psychic
energy feeling sorry for those who have less.
This includes a refusal to pity people who
have less common sense: students, dumb enough to go deeply into
debt to get an alleged education; liberals, insisting that "the
rich" are the problem and supporting politicians, including the
president, who have no idea what to do about jobs and the
economy so fall back on pandering to those who, unlike me, feel
Obama's "tax the rich" proposal? That could
make a tiny temporary dent in this year's deficit — then what?
Some otherwise idle people are presently
outdoors "occupying" cities. Some call themselves the 99ers
because they have exhausted the 99 weeks of unemployment
benefits and won't consider jobs picking lettuce or waiting on
Others use 99ers to refer to those of us who
aren't among the 1 percent of richest Americans that they want
to tax more.
Some who object to their vaguely coherent
demands call them the flea party, noting that after a few days
of occupation the demonstrators aren't clean and presentable.
However, let's remember Woodstock, rock and roll in the mud. At
my age, it doesn't take much for recent decades to vanish into
the mist as I return in my mind to another generation's youth.
"Make love not war" made more sense than "tax the rich" and
"occupy Wall Street."
When men just a year younger than I protested
in the street, they had a good reason: The government was
drafting them to die in Southeast Asia.
As in Afghanistan, the military-industrial
complex had no idea what it was doing in Vietnam, but at least
our present wars are being fought with heroic volunteers, not
Don't remember any of that era's protesters
insisting that they shouldn't have to repay their college loans.
But can't imagine any of us going into the kind of debt some of
the occupiers have accumulated, or expecting our parents to tap
the retirement plans they earned through the alleged capitalist
system that liberal economics professors deplore.
Here's a plan, kids: boycott. Go on strike.
Or as my generation called it, drop out. Refuse to pay the
outrageous tuitions and fees, and see how quickly they come
down. Support deficit hawks in ending the government grants and
subsidies for those who can qualify, which only drive up the
costs for the rest of you, and watch desperate college
administrators respond to your consumer demands.
The Occupiers have many concerns, some valid
underneath their inability to understand the reason for the
nation's current problems and adequately express themselves.
Young people have every reason to be demonstrating against the
status quo. In other, flea-free venues, they are speaking out
against the national debt, which they will have to pay; the
unfunded pension and health care liabilities, which they will
have to fund while expecting little or nothing when it is their
turn to collect.
Like the rest of us, both flea partiers and
more responsible young activists wonder why the government is
bailing out banks and big businesses, while corporate executives
receive undeserved pay and bonuses. They perhaps notice that
various factors, including decades of unreasonable union
demands, have driven jobs overseas, never to return.
Here is the enemy, protesters: Big
Government, Big Business, Big Labor. Higher taxes and more debt
to fund the first — supposedly to stimulate the second and third
— aren't the answer.
As for the rich: get over them. Except for
those who engaged in criminal activities, are sucking up
government subsidies, or supporting tax hikes on the rest of us,
their net worth is none of our business.
Billionaire T. Boone Pickens and his wife
Madeleine, after Hurricane Katrina, arranged airlifts for 800
stranded dogs and cats. She is presently involved in "Mustang
Monument," creating a sanctuary on their Nevada ranch and nearby
federal land for the wild horses of the West.
Here's a question for 99er animal lovers:
would you rather these 1 percenters continue with their private
good works, or give the money to the government, which couldn't
quickly assist the human victims of Katrina, and packs wild
horses in corrals while ranchers lobby, so far unsuccessfully,
to restrict their access to water so they'll die.
I admit that animals are where my emotions
I'm glad Madeleine Pickens is rich. I don't
envy her, but wish I too had lots of money to donate to animal
shelters and sanctuaries, or the private charities that do so
much good for children in third-world countries.
These, not the government distributors of
other people's wealth, are the ones who contribute to the
happiness and health in the world.
Wise Americans won't let government get in