Paul Krugman is at his best when he points out silly things Republicans say:
Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced “mobs” and “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” The G.O.P. presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the protesters of waging “class warfare,” while Herman Cain calls them “anti-American.” My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don’t deserve to have them.
But Krugman is at his typical biased worst when he claims:
there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009.
I think that’s an outright lie.
What was so bad about the Tea Party’s behavior? They had some misspelled signs. Some ironic ignorance in anti-government rhetoric. Maybe there were a few racists in the crowd.
At worst you can say the Occupiers have a few crazies just like the Tea Party. Tweeting about the evils of capitalism from an iPhone is about as rich as the infamous “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” But maybe Krugman didn’t know about the racist rants or the threats of violence.
Surely Krugman knew about the arrests, though. I don’t recall hundreds of Tea Partiers getting arrested for interfering with police. And when you consider the reported numbers of these crowds, seven hundred is a sizable representation of the kind of people involved. But maybe this was just police overreaction, or it doesn’t count because there was nothing violent going on (You’re stretching now to say this is better than the also non-violent Tea Party “behavior.”)
But I know Krugman must not have read his very own New York Times the day before he published his predictably polemic column, or we would have been well aware of the negative externalities caused by hundreds to thousands of people spending extended time in the middle of a city (h/t to Classical Values). It’s downright awful:
Panini and Company Cafe normally sells sandwiches to tourists in Lower Manhattan and the residents nearby, but in recent days its owner, Stacey Tzortzatos, has also become something of a restroom monitor. Protesters from Occupy Wall Street, who are encamped in a nearby park, have been tromping in by the scores, and not because they are hungry.
Ms. Tzortzatos’s tolerance for the newcomers finally vanished when the sink was broken and fell to the floor. She installed a $200 lock on the bathroom to thwart nonpaying customers, angering the protesters.
“I’m looked at as the enemy of the people,” she said…
Mike Keane, who owns O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub, said that the theft of soap and toilet paper had soared and that one protester had used the bathroom but had failed to properly use the toilet. Both Ms. Tzortzatos, owner of the Panini and Company Cafe, and Mr. Keane said the protesters rarely bought anything, yet hurled curses when they were told that only paying customers could use their bathrooms…
Mr. Zamfotis closed his bathroom after it repeatedly flooded from protesters’ bathing there.
Tell me when the Tea Partiers did something like this. This is not the work of a few crazies, and unfortunately it’s not surprising, either. Broken sinks and flooded bathrooms are the inevitable result of the collection of a large group of people suffering from entitlementality. If something exists, it belongs to everyone, whether it’s the billionaire’s riches or the small business owner’s bathroom. There is no distinction between public and private, and no understanding that if private things are forced to be public than those private things will stop being provided at all. And the saddest part of it is that these folks protesting the wealth and power of the 1% are only hurting the small business owners who are their fellow 99%.
Of course Republicans have been overreacting hysterically about the crowds (although the Democrats were
just as hysterical about the dangers of angry old white people sitting in lawn chairs). But I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable for supporters of non-corrupt capitalism to be at least a little concerned that unions and Michael Moore are throwing resources at a growing movement that contains at least some bonafide Marxists who are threatening violence and calling for the destruction of capitalism.
And I think it’s even less unreasonable to be concerned and even saddened by the destructive effects the Occupiers are having on local businesses, not through any violence but simply through the ignorance of property rights and the good old free rider problem and the tragedy of the commons. I know some people want to believe this movement is simply about ending corruption and the undemocratic power of corporations, but I am sorry to tell you that it is not. It’s being overrun by free riders, and you might want to get out while you can.
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