October 18 2011
Carrie L. Lukas
Occupy Wall Street has caught the imagination of liberals who yearn for a meaningful movement to re-energize their cause. Unfortunately for them, the actual protest participants seem causeless beyond wanting free stuff from Wall Street and government.
Yes, they stumble upon legitimate grievances: Selective corporate bailouts are inherently corrupt and unfair (just as are windfall giveaway to politically-connected “green” corps, like Solyandra...though they never mention that). Grown-ups who encouraged students to take on $50k in debt to get an undergraduate degree in an irrelevant field did them a great disservice.
Yet free-floating anger isn't a coherent governing philosophy. Neither is a desire for the elimination of debt and the giveaway of free goods.
Maybe the best that can be expected from this crowd of under-educated college graduates. But people should expect better from established Washington institutions—even liberal ones—who surely understand that “free stuff” isn't really free. Someone has to provide it. And that the solution to politically-corrupt bailouts and government giveaways isn't more bailouts and government giveaways.
Yet when you look at the “The Federal Budget is a Feminist Issue” Toolkit that NOW is pushing on their chapters and activists, there is little there that's more thoughtful than the OWS's profane street signs. NOW provides some “economic justice chants” for those members who actually want to follow in the OWS footsteps. Their chants have a quaint 1960s air about them—“Cuts for women, never for men--We cannot take this again and again!”—even if they are substantively as vacuous as anything produced by the OWS.
Their PowerPoint on the budget, though, is more revealing in its disconnect with our current economic reality. There's the obligatory lament that Rep. Paul Ryan's budget would disproportionately harm women, that women depend more on social safety nets, and that women are not not doing as well as men are in the so-called recovery (yes, we are supposed to ignore the fact that men's unemployment has been consistently higher than women's).
As far as an actual plan for what policymakers should do about our trillion dollar deficits, high unemployment, and anemic growth, there is nothing more than platitudes about funding “soft infrastructure” (that's code for public sector health, social welfare, and education jobs which women dominate), making sure multimillionaires and corporations pay their “fair share” of taxes, and cutting the military, rather than social programs.
Certainly, there is plenty of waste in the military. I agree that America should consider how to streamline our nation's defense. But NOW would be wise to remember that many parts of the world hate America specifically because our women are so free. Women, certainly those abroad as well as here at home, benefit from the protection provided by a strong U.S. military. And let's face it, you simply cannot cut the military enough to fill our exploding entitlement funding gap.
When it comes to entitlements, NOW adopts a head-in-the-sand insistence that Social Security has nothing to do with the federal budget (note, payroll taxes already aren't covering benefits so Social Security will be claiming more and more from the general budget each year), and that entitlements shouldn't be reform, never-mind how we will actually pay for them to continue.
The dearth of actual political solutions isn't limited to the Occupy Wall Street movement, but plagues liberal establishments like the National Organization for Women as well.