In Which John Tillman Plays With Fire

I understand where John Tillman is coming from. The CEO of the illinois Policy Institute has encountered a few of the occupiers and shares some concerns with them.


Here is what I learned: First, they don’t like crony capitalism in which politicians and government pick the winners and losers. We agreed. Second, they don’t like it that people misbehaved on Wall Street. We agreed again. But when I pointed out that the financial collapse occurred primarily because of people playing within the rules created by government and that it was the government itself that made the rules, we began to find more common ground.One thing that has bothered the occupiers is their image as portrayed in the news media. They think corporate media are misleading the public about who they really are and what they really want. I told them my take, based on news reports, was that they are engaged in class warfare and hate corporations and capitalism. They said that that was not what it was all about; their occupation, rather, is about stopping abuses of the system at the expense of average people. We agreed once more.

I’ve written about the common ground conservatives might find with some of the folk who’ve joined in the occupation cause. The Sam Adams Alliance and other groups have found that there are some in the crowd who really are just angry about feeling like the deck is stacked against them. They aren’t there for punishment. They are there because they want to be able to compete.But as I noted at the time, “Most of the common ground with most of these damn dirty communists is superficial.” The more we learn about the crowds, the more I am set in that opinion.


We know, for example, that the Working Families Party is on Craigslist offering to pay protestors. They deny that, but the implication is clear and the ads are there. Last night, we saw Oakland, CA explode.In Atlanta, GA last night, the police were called in. An 11 Alive reporter in Atlanta captured interesting nuggets from the crowd there. One of the unofficial leaders in the crowd, Tim Franzen, told the reporter they were going to protest in front of Georgia Pacific’s building because of the Koch Brothers. According to Franzen,

We’ve been having a team of alchemists and faith healers and doctors of physics working together to develop a mathematical formula to levitate the building

Walter Williams noted the other day that

[t]he Occupy Wall Street protesters are following the path predicted by the great philosopher-economist Frederic Bastiat, who said in “The Law” that “instead of rooting out the injustices found in society, they make these injustices general.” In other words, the protesters don’t want to end crony capitalism, with its handouts and government favoritism; they want to participate in it.

That is the key nugget and why John Tillman should be careful what he wishes for.There are some people out in the crowd who just want the level playing field. And the right should be pushing legislation to help those people. They want the same level playing field we want. We share a mutual recognition that Wall Street and both political parties in Washington are joined together to tightly. We recognize that this union hurts entrepreneurs and drives up the cost to compete against established companies.But it is increasingly apparent across the nation that those in the movement who share common values with the tea party crowd are a small minority within the crowd. The bulk of the crowd is neo-Marxist or plain old Marxist. They want an end to capitalism, they want to punish the successful, and they are as greedy as the fat cats they condemn.The danger is that their greed is greed for power. At least the capitalists want to make something and give it to us in exchange for money. Greed for power is a far more dangerous thing and we play with fire by humoring these people are finding much common ground outside those in the minority of this movement.Playing with fire is going to get Tillman and likeminded souls burned. The better approach would be to push forward the legislative proposal Tillman thinks we find common ground on. Make sure the Occupy crowd knows about and let those who share our values come out of the crowd. If we push sound policy, they’ll come if they really are there.



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