Nevertheless this smug little missive from droning Hollywood nerd Ben Stein rubbed me the wrong way, and really illustrated several common fallacies:
1) "Greed is human nature." (Thus it's unavoidable, thus it's OK.) Look, human nature covers absolutely everything that any human being has ever done. It's also human nature for humans to give away millions of dollars, to volunteer for worthy causes, to sacrifice their own life and limbs, etc. The human nature argument thus is a throw-away unless you can prove the opposite isn't also true.
2) "Wall Street was stupid (not just greedy)." This one really gets me. Sometimes it's used by bailout proponents who argue that Wall Street wasn't greedy at all, just dopey. (And their stupidity is supposed to make us feel better about handing them all that bailout cash how??) Yeah, right. I'm sure Hank Paulson, Larry Summers, and Bob Rubin think of themselves as dufuses who messed up real bad -- and they're gonna confess to their stupidity any day now.
Anyway, let me get this straight: we had to bail out the banks because they were so stupid, yet homeowners who bought the line from mortgage bankers and realtors that home prices only go up forever were stupid therefore they need to "learn their lesson" and "take their medicine"?? Indeed help for normal people, not just banks, is one of the protesters' demands, and this demand seems to have been intentionally dismissed by our politicians because it might interfere with the blessed bank bailouts.
3) "Conventional wisdom = liberalism = whatever the status quo is." This makes no sense. The status quo is that Wall Street banks are enjoying trillion-dollar bailouts to fund their huge salaries and bonuses while normal Americans continue sink into debt and poverty and can't drive our consumption-driven economy back to health. And it's supported by both parties, not just Democrats. This is the outcome which "conventional wisdom" in America has supported, from Obama to Boehner to the editorial pages of all the major newspapers. So let's not confuse the status quo with liberalism, certainly not with progressive politics. Progressives never supported the bailouts; and they have always called for bigger fiscal stimulus, real mortgage relief for homeowners and Main Street businesses, and prosecution of Wall St.'s fraud and financial crimes -- to no avail.
4) "Young protesters want government to take care of them, like Mommy and Daddy do." Really? Are you sure that's what they're out there demanding? I never heard that. Since when do Americans not want to work, especially those who spent 4+ years in college studying and taking out debt in the hopes of landing a job to pay it back? If this is what's really going on, then America is sick indeed. But I don't buy it. You'll have to prove this one to me, because that's not the America I know, or any of the Americans whom I know. 99% of Americans wants a good job and the independence, gratification, and social acceptance that comes with it.
5) "Some on Wall Street are crooks and some are fools." Stop right there. Last time I checked, crooks are supposed to be arrested and get fined and/or go to jail. How many bank CEOs have gone to prison or faced any prosecution for causing the financial crisis? [Crickets chirping]. That's right. And what about the potential hundreds of billions of dollars in settlements to benefit ordinary people who were fleeced by Wall St., settlements that may be pre-emptively shelved without due process or any kind of vote due to political pressure by a bipartisan consensus including President Obama himself?
6) "Shut up and get to work." Who says they're not working now? They're out there defending all of us! We should be thanking them. And the hard-working Tea Parties should be out there with them. --> By the way, last time I checked Herman Cain wasn't working either. Get a job, deadbeat!
By Ben Stein
October 7, 2011 | American Spectator
On the radio, they played a story about the demonstrators on Wall Street demonstrating –literally -- against human nature -- greed and stupidity. Literally. Many of them were -- so we were told --recent college graduates who could not get employment.
Various leftists came on and said how cruel Wall Street was and how they should be blamed for those poor unemployed college kids' problems.
Then came Herman Cain. He said, very simply, "If you are a college graduate and you can't get a job, you shouldn't blame Wall Street. You shouldn't blame the banks. You should blame yourself."
A Daniel come to judgment. The sun suddenly came out.
The next step, I am sure, by the way, for the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd is for Anderson Cooper, Bill Maher, and Jon Stewart, the trifecta of conventional wisdom's failed liberalism, to come down to Wall Street and join the masses in demanding more of our tax money so they can all be supported as novelists and movie directors.
You poor kids. You are basically asking to be supported and taken care of by Mommy and Daddy. Wake up, kids. Wall Street is you, with all of your wants and needs and wishes, only they have the balls to go out and work for it. Sometimes they are crooks and sometimes they are fools -- but you know what? So are all of us.
Listen to Mr. Cain. Shut up and get to work.