'Occupy' protesters should get over their envy of the rich
by Barbara Anderson

The Eagle Tribune
Sunday, October 16, 2011

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 responsibility.

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 envy.

Obama's "tax the rich" proposal? That could make a tiny temporary dent in this year's deficit then what? And who?

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 tables.

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 kidnapped kids.

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 get activated.

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 their way.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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