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Let’s Merge the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 17, 2011 8:58 AM |

There is strength in numbers, right? No doubt.

There is also strength in scale, strong organization, defining one’s place in the market and then accentuating all of the above.

Thanks to a loyal reader whose recent comment prompted me to think of how and why a merger of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements should occur.

Why do mergers work? In my opinion, successful mergers accomplish the following:
1. Define a need and opportunity within the marketplace.

2. Develop a unified vision in joining forces which looks for far reaching and grand common goals.

3. Agree to make the shared sacrifice which marginalizes those inside and outside the individual units which would prefer the status quo or a variation thereof.

4. Realize that prior to winning future battles, nothing can and will be accomplished unless there is an acceptance and agreement on the points above.

Against this backdrop, why do I think those involved in both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements should merge? 

I firmly believe that the common points of interest in these groups far exceed the differences. I also firmly believe that forces in Washington, on Wall Street, and in the media are working hard to define who and what the TP and OWS represent so as to keep them separate and distinct. How so?

I regularly see the Tea Party defined as a group of renegades railing on big government. I now witness the OWS movement as a group defined as young beatniks railing on the “big business” mentality on Wall Street.

The simple fact is the issues crippling our nation are not simply those of big government or big business. The issues crippling our nation are the marriage of the interests embedded in Washington with those embedded on Wall Street. That marriage, commonly defined here at Sense on Cents as the ‘Wall Street-Washington Incest‘, has left far too many of our citizens—including those aligned with both the Tea Party and OWS—on the outside looking in.

How do we address the incestuous nature of this relationship and get a seat at the table for the necessary debate our nation must undertake?

1. Do not allow the media or the power bases on Wall Street or Washington to define and then marginalize either group. I witness this process of definition and marginalization occurring on a daily basis.

2. Define and hammer the common values and goals of both movements. Focus on promoting the truth at every turn. Demand transparency daily. No compromising on integrity.

3. Stay on message. That is, do not waver in defining the incestuous relationship between Wall Street and Washington as the root of our national rot and decay.

4. Do not look to solve issues down the road in terms of social, fiscal, or monetary policy and thus lose focus while highlighting differences in outlook.

Complementary efforts properly aligned are powerful and can redefine our national political process. The fact is a merger of the forces within the Tea Party and OWS can form the foundation for the third party that our nation needs. A merged entity can demand air time and exposure that individual entities never could.

Will a merger occur? I hope so. I think a joint effort could change our national direction away from the crony capitalism which is part and parcel of the ongoing incest which envelops us.

Shared sacrifice and grand visions are what made our country great. Let these be the cornerstones upon which this merger occurs so our nation can once again embrace and promote our badly needed virtues of truth, transparency, and integrity. In the process, perhaps we can recapture some ‘sense on cents’ and provide a brighter future for our children.

Questions, comments, constructive criticisms encouraged and appreciated.

Larry Doyle

Isn’t it time to  subscribe to all my work via e-mail, an RSS feed, on Twitter or Facebook? Do your friends, family, and colleagues a favor and get them to do the same. Thanks!!

I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets, our economy, and our political realm so that meaningful investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • divman

    sorry LD but when you consider the OWS nutbags are now officially supported by the Communist Party , the Nazi Party ( ) as well as Iran’s nutty president and today see China endorsing OWS , its really hard to see the connection you allude to . Tea Party folks protest on weekends cuz they have jobs they want to keep and kids they have to feed and drop off at school .

    • LD

      Eliminate those groups which clearly have a defined agenda which is TOTALLY inconsistent with the shared goals of the TP and OWS.

      Easily done. You have the OWS make a strong statement on this topic. I also would not be surprised to learn that the media and our political powers that be actually put forth the support by these entities in order to marginalize the call for transparency.

      Needs a little leadership which is clearly lacking.

  • LD: MUST READ!!!

    I just received this e-mail from an individual who had visited the OWS movement over the weekend. MUST READ!!

    Classical Insights Afternoon Bullet Points October 16, 2011

    I went to Zuccotti Park yesterday and talked with about 20 of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Everyone was polite and happy to chat. I’d say the breakdown between good and bad ideas was a little better than 50/50. Yet the protestors’ core notion — that average Americans are being screwed by the powers that be — has plenty of merit. On specific points, the Occupy Wall Street people and the Tea Partiers actually have a fair amount in common.

    Here are some of the individual protestors’ ideas:

    Replace the existing 535-man congress with direct democracy
    — thereby cutting down on corruption. The guy proposing this was in his 20s and carried a sign reading “Waterboard Wall Street.” He was quite eloquent, arguing that today we have the technology to allow all Americans to vote on major decisions, so why not do it? It’s a reasonable point. In fact, author Eric Morse made a similar argument in his recent book Juggernaut. Morse recommends we move to a 10,000-man congress, thereby returning us to the original, 1790s-era ratio of 30,000 citizens per congressperson. This approach would cut down on corruption because 10,000 people are too many to bribe.

    “Weak Messianism.”
    I chatted for a while with a scholarly looking fellow in his late 20s at a table with a couple of books by philosopher Walter Benjamin. The concept behind weak messianism is that small powerless movements can have an inordinately large impact because they embody the sins and problems of the recent past, bringing them into the open and helping to get them resolved. Apparently, this notion has roots in Eastern Orthodox philosophy. “Are there dirty hippies here? Yes,” said the fellow at the table. “Are there people doing drugs here? Yes. But this is all part of the process. It’s a mistake to try to define the goals of the movement too quickly.” The process of airing all the grievances and concerns is itself useful, he said. “The protest has actually morphed several times since it started a few weeks ago.”

    Stop the foreign wars and use those resources here at home.
    This was a big theme. Many protestors are very upset that we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars fighting wars all over the world when our own economy is weak and jobs are hard to find. I was handed a flyer from an outfit called “Veterans for Peace” which contained several noteworthy statistics:

    The U.S. military budget is 7x that of China;
    New Yorkers have paid $113 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 10 years. For that same money, 19 million students could get scholarships to go to college for one year;
    $1 billion spent on the military creates 8,500 jobs, whereas $1 billion in tax cuts generates 10,800 jobs. (Not sure about that point but it’s interesting they supplied it.)

    End the Fed.
    I saw one big sign making the case that the Federal Reserve is a non-governmental entity whose primary goal is to empower and enrich bankers, not individuals. It’s a fair point. As G. Edward Griffin wrote in The Creature from Jekyll Island, our current banking system is designed to implode periodically – and for the losses to be socialized when it does. The protesters are rightfully mad about this, though as a practical matter most probably don’t understand the nuts and bolts of it. They simply see that Wall Street banks blew up, taxpayers bailed them out, nobody went to jail, and the bigwigs made millions of dollars. It doesn’t seem right to them. On this issue the protests (as well as the Tea Party protests) should have some impact. We can expect some combination of higher capital requirements and lower tolerance for high-risk trading activities by banks going forward.

    “Aggregate demand is too weak.”
    This was written on a sign carried by a fellow wearing an “MMT” baseball cap. In this case, MMT stands for Modern Monetary Theory. The protester argued that the government needs to increase spending drastically to boost the economy. I disagreed with him on that point, proposing that a combination of tax cuts and nominal GDP targeting via quantitative easing would make more sense. He disagreed and we argued the point for a while. There was another economist type standing next to him (also an MMT-er), who agreed that tax cuts would be an acceptable way to boost aggregate demand.

    College is way overpriced and the education is lousy.
    One of the most interesting conversations I had was with a chunky 22-year-old from Vermont who is $250,000 in debt yet still doesn’t have his bachelor’s degree. He was carrying a sign that read, “Where’s our Robin Hood?” He has attended Hofstra, University of Vermont and (currently) Ramapo College in New Jersey. His degree is costing him about $50,000 per year and he expects to need 5 years to graduate. After graduation he wants to get a master’s degree, at which point he expects to be $500,000 in debt. He is studying business and his goal is to work in the music business for a few years and then start a record company.

    “Nobody will take you seriously if you don’t have a college degree,” he explained. “You can’t get a job, and a bank won’t give you a business start-up loan.” He said he doesn’t think any of the schools he’s attended has given him a good education. “I’m sitting in computing classes and they’re teaching us how to use Excel and Powerpoint – things I learned when I was 16. I’m sitting there thinking that I’m paying thousands of dollars for this.” He said his student loans carry a 7% interest rate.

    Another guy (with a clearly skeptical bent) joined the conversation and asked, “So why don’t you just go to a cheaper school?” The Vermonter responded that he wanted to get out of Vermont and see new things.

    Workers of the World Unite!
    I chatted with a full-on socialist who argued for nationalization of banks and industries. Such a move would free workers from mind-numbing jobs — while bringing an end to the capitalist practice of skimming the excess value created by laborers. I argued that a successful business can’t function on labor alone, and that without a visionary running the business labor won’t create any excess value at all. He rejected this notion, arguing that people are motivated to work and create by non-monetary impulses. The engineers at Apple Computer, for instance, would be inspired to do their work even without the profit motive.

    Socialists or communists were manning four tables in various parts of the park. Nearly all were older guys. I don’t think they’ll get much traction with the young protestors. For instance, the socialist I talked to cited steel-mill work as an example of a particularly mind-deadening task. Yet most steel mill jobs have been computerized for decades and some are fairly high tech at this point. Smart young people just aren’t going to buy into these old socialists’ vision. The weakness of their sales pitch is magnified by the fact that much of America’s wealth is now intellectual rather than physical — and intellectual property can’t be effectively nationalized in the first place.

    There’s another issue that rankles down here: CEOs making millions while they downsize their labor forces and move factories to China.
    That just doesn’t strike people as right. In some cosmic way they have a point, which goes back to the whole notion that man, for most of his history, lived in egalitarian hunter-gatherer tribes. As such, when a few people get super-rich by firing others, it just doesn’t sit well. That’s an emotionally live issue and one that’s not going away.

    Who are the 1% that these protestors are so mad at? My sense is that the 1% does not refer to successful people generally, but rather to those few who get rich via collusion between government and business.
    For instance, defense contractors greasing palms of congressmen would fall into this category, as would bankers who receive billions in bailouts. I’m reminded here of Amity Schlaes’ concept of “the Forgotten Man,” which dates back to the 1930s: When A makes a deal with B, the loser is very often C, who is not even at the table. The Occupy Wall Street people are “C”s to a man. They know this, they are not happy about it – and they have a point. The Tea Partiers also are mostly “Cs,” so I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I saw some Ron Paul signs at Zuccotti Park.

    I saw a baby wearing a T-shirt that read, “Still waiting for the Great Leap Forward.” I said to the mother, “Um, I’m not sure if you know this, but the Great Leap Forward was a socialist experiment in China in the 1950s that went horribly wrong and killed millions of people.” She said she didn’t know that and had actually gotten the phrase from a Billy Bragg song. A few others nearby also were wearing T-shirts with slogans on them. They’d never heard of China’s Great Leap Forward, either, and all said they would look it up on Wikipedia when they got home.

    End hydraulic fracturing. There were several people around the park with signs calling for an end to fracking, arguing that it poisons groundwater. I am open to convincing either way on this one. I’ve read articles suggesting both sides have a case.

    A number of people were carrying signs saying “Tax the Rich” or some variant thereof. I didn’t strike up conversations with any of them, on the assumption they wouldn’t have much interesting to say. Still, “Tax the Rich,” is clearly a popular theme now, even among many Republican voters. No wonder Mitt Romney is not proposing cuts to income-tax rates for higher-income Americans.

    Big groups of people were engaged in drum-pounding, chanting, and call-and-response sessions at opposite ends of the park. After I left, I realized that I’d simply blotted them out, probably on the unconscious assumption they were all idiots. Later on, though, it occurred to me that these people likely were the real occupiers – i.e. the ones sleeping out in the park every night. It also occurred to me that many of the people I talked to probably were just down there during the days.

    Later Saturday evening, some of the occupiers moved to Times Square and created a real mess. I was walking down 7th Avenue trying to catch a train at Penn Station when the cops shut down a couple of blocks. That cost me 10 minutes of extra walking and I almost missed my train. My empathy for the protestors declined substantially at that point. When protests start inconveniencing regular people just trying to walk down the street, you’re into Third World territory. The cops were everywhere around Times Square but just focused on directing traffic and channeling the people flow.

    Feel free to forward this as there are no investment themes contained.

    Mike Churchill

  • divman

    <>…..while you are doing that , how about cure cancer and make Arabs and Jews love each other again ….

    I went down LD . I see guys holding up signs calling Wall Street to be ” Hitler’s Bankers ” and plenty of other anti-semetic crap .

    The unions and the community activists have already moved in and overwhelmed the few folks there with legit reasons . Now that they are in , we see Obama and various DNC politicians rushing in to embrace the movement as ‘them too ‘ .

    Its already over LD . The 1 in 20 with some coherent valid reason to be there and angry been replaced by 19 with agendas .

    Soros’s MoveOn is putting up funding and providing supplies .

    When these nutbags went to Upper East Side to march , they walked by Soros’s mansion without a whimper and whose house did they choose as their target ?

    Blankfein ? Stan O’Neal ? Bear Stearns traders ?

    nah …… Rupert Murdoch ! yeah , there’s a huge connection with Wall Street …… then they marched over to the house of one of the Koch brothers ….. they don’t even own a bank in their empire .

    these targets chosen because its now just a DNC 2012 campaign event .

    sorry LD but you’ll make a fool of yourself embracing these filthy dim bulbs . I suggest you get on a subway and go spend 2 days with them if you thinkm i’m wrong .

    even the few coherent sounding ones put in front of a TV camera are pathetic . Over and over i hear them whine about masters in philosophy or doctorates in political science and how their jobs are waitressing tables .

    how is their bad choices in life conmnected to Street ? seriously LD ….wanna address that one ?

    have you noticed LD no blacks or latinos or asians in this group ? thats because they are too busy working or standing iun line for one of those waitressing jobs the OWS folks make fun of ……

    have a look at this OWS nutbag

    Andrew Breitbart decided to investigate this loud mouth . Guess what . His name is Andrew Hall III and he has a trust fund . He’s down there because he’s bored and looking for something to do .

    I got out of college in 1979 LD . Job prospects were every bit as bleak . I also had debt . The difference was that I had made a vow that i would do ANYTHING before i gave up and moved into my parent’s basement . I changed my college major my senior year to one that was more connected to job markets . I hustled my ass off and found a job i wasn’t thrilled about . therse pompous jackwads in OWS are all standing around sipping Starbux lattes checking their IPhones and IPads and wandering off to the nearby BAC ATM machines are all frauds .

    THese idiots need to move their march 200 miles south to where the real problem is : Washington DC …… but they won’t do this because they are all being funded and lead by DNC promoters at this point .

    Barry Ritzholz gets the joke how misguided these useful idiots are . Read his piece ( )

    Oh , and if you think these folks are the first to wander about banging drums and screaming at buildings , you dead wrong . Here they are back in 1979 ( ) ….see how much these screamers accomplished .

    Change will only come when America elects leaders who can bring REAL CHANGE . All this fraud Obama did was come in and loot the Treasury to throw trillions to state unions and cronies ( Solyndra ) and now we are bust .

    What folks like you need to be calling for is getting the OWS nutbags organized and on busses to Washington DC where they need about 10 x current numbers and then they need to surround Capitol Building and scream til Boehner and Reid hear them .

    Until then ?


    • LD

      Love your passion and not discounting any or all of what you have to say. I have no interest in losers and lunatics either nor unions and Democrats who might want to hijack the cause.

      All this said, in reading the review provided by Mike Churchill I do get the sense that there are some people within the cause who get it and want to expose the ‘incest’.

      For what it is worth, prior to my suggesting this merger, I did write a few days ago that ‘Occupy Wall Street Should Occupy Washington’

      I think I may have beaten Barry to the punch with my commentary above not that it matters but I do witness on Barry’s site that he has a banner in which he supports the OWS movement.

      Don’t worry I’m not going soft on you.

      Keep the passion coming….I love it!!

  • divman

    my post above in response to LD’s comment :

    ” Eliminate those groups which clearly have a defined agenda which is TOTALLY inconsistent with the shared goals of the TP and OWS. “

  • fred

    Nice job Mike Churchill.

    Just a thought on a little leadership,

    Maybe OWS should set up a speakers platform, in the Park, so that people could express their outrage, in an organized/centralized fashion, so that others might listen.

    The “MIKE” could be offered to all regardless of political affiliation, ‘to anyone with a story to tell’.

    Speaker ground rules could be established…

    not allowing political affiliation reference or personal attacks/accusations, time limit, personal experience only, written presentations reviewed for content, variation of topic, etc.


    References to the failures of the President or the former President might reference gov’t leadership failure rather than individual persons or parties.

    If a speaker violates the rules the “MIKE” could simply be turned off until the speaker left the platform.

  • coe

    What a terrific report, Mike Churchill..I think you found a way to touch on the gestalt of the movement – and regardless of one’s own point of view, there seems to me to be something fundamentally important in the underlying issues…I happened to be down there on a Friday morning last week, ironically for a breakfast with a banker..we were at Cipriani’s on the terrace overlooking the gathering in the street corner – seemed to be a couple of hundred OWS folks – mostly college age – carrying placards, making noise – accompanied by a makeshift band and shepherded by a group of mounted police and and a mobile unit on was a beautiful morning to protest..after discussing the latest dynamics of the FHLB system, the banker and I went our respective ways..I talked with a few of the protesters I encountered in the area..they may not fully understand the details of how TARP worked and how it was repaid with interest by most of the bailout participants, but their concerns and passion were both evident and on most levels, seemed pretty valid to me..curiously, it evoked memories of the VietNam War era protests for me – though the issues were far different, the core message was similar – ie that the “leaders” of the country (the politicians, business rock stars, militant military -industrial complex) are tone-deaf and moving us in a dangerous direction..and the “people” they represent are the ones that bear the brunt of the folly and suffer as a result…what’s worse is the fact that the leaders are enriching themselves at the expense of the very constituencies they represent..I don’t know if either the OWS or the TP in this era has the same staying power of the protesters that dogged the VietNam era, and it would help them both if the message could be synthesized and translated into the media friendly sound bites (a la Mike’s headers), but I am praying it does not lead to more polarization and/or even violence…you cannot help but be concerned it might be heading into that direction – keep an eye on Europe as a sneak peek at what might lie in front of us..and let’s not be too quick to dismiss the kids in the movement as dirty hippies with a political agenda – weren’t we all 20yrs old once and filled with boundless potential and energy, as well as unbridled passion about our lot in life and things that were both good and bad about America, the world, religion, business, and the was a long time ago in a far different climate, but there is something to say about “the past is prologue”.

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