The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Yesterday’s hippies: Today’s occupiers


October 29, 2011

If you’ve got to have people taking you to the woodshed, it’s a comfort when they are stellar personalities such as former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and one of New Mexico’s better journalists, Walt Rubel, managing editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Both raised eyebrows over a column here poking innocent fun at the Occupy Wall Street movement. Joining the chorus of boos were several from the Albuquerque Metro area, mostly folks who seem to have a prune juice deficit. Like, geez, chill.

Rubel found idiotic my column assertion nothing has changed since hippies roamed the land. I was making the point we will always have the rich and the poor. Walt pointed out I overlook the significant fact that there has been a huge change, that being the shift in the wealth gap. Fewer and fewer own more and more.

He’s right, although I think the intent of my assertion was clear. However, I was but a bit player in a Rubel column whose main theme was a timely and needed rebuke of Congressman Steve Pearce rants. The Pearce Washington-bashing routine is so intense, Walt says, that the congressman’s “derision is to the point where you have to wonder how effective he can be.” That is extremely well said so I guess I can give Walt Rubel a pass for picking on me.

My defense of business and profit baffled Denish. “Do you think comparing big bank profits and coffee shop profits is reality? I’ve been checking around with local retailers lately…none of them have really enjoyed 200 percent bonuses stock options, or bailouts. They can’t even get a small business loan.”

Good points. But not all share in rational thinking. Many go overboard, wanting to dismantle the system. They ignore the fact capitalism, if structured in a way to float boats at all levels of society, is still the best bet for our country.

I do not defend obscene profits. It would seem one answer is higher taxes for the richest, which is admittedly a convenient solution for me since I am not among them. But Warren Buffet is the poster boy of the carriage trade, and he is on the record saying the tax code coddles the wealthiest among us.

The hippie protests of old and the Occupy Wall Street movement have much in common. They each were born of valid idealistic goals, they each have some bright and sincere adherents, and each is devalued by the outrageous. In former days it was the soap-deprived, pot-smoking dullard. Today’s Occupy Wall Street Kodak moment is attired in ghoulish garb with black and white face paint.

(And, yes, before you write, let me quickly admit much of media “coverage” of these events involves TV cameras pointed at the guy who looks like he is about to go trick or treating.)

I have often wondered why protests most frequently involve sitting. America did not become a great country because people sat. Rather, our strength is based on getting off our butts and doing something productive.

The idea of gathering in a pleasant park on a mild, sunshiny day, sitting on a blanket, holding a “Banks Suck!” sign and waiting for a reporter to show up, seems rather too easy. I have to wonder if Albuquerque snow this past week reduced the fervor of occupiers.

In some cities the Occupy Wall Street camps have impressively set up shelters for the homeless. That is a good thing. What if they were to go a step further? Those New Mexicans so embittered with how the Wall Street crowd enslaves lower classes might issue an invitation to gather in, say, Raton.

Once there, they will choose a disadvantaged family, fix up the house, make sure the car runs properly, help them with legal issues, investigate avenues of health care. Their message to government and corporate America would be, “We’re helping poor people. Won’t you?”

I can just see the protest signs. “Hell No, I Won’t Go!”

Have a nice day.


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