The 99% 98%

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday — because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.

They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day.

This is from the NYPost so take it with a grain of salt but still there is a lesson to be learned beyond the chortle.


>This is from the NYPost so take it with a grain of salt

So, what would be required for an NYTimes story? A truckload of salt?

Sorry, but to compare the NY Post to the NY Times is beyond absurd. Fine, you have an ideological problem with the Times, but that isn't enough to compare the broadsheet to the shit tabloid that is the Post. Sometimes the ideological blinkers might be on too tight,

for calling out patently false equivalencies


I believe it was the National Enquirer that broke the John Edwards story.

Disregarding the message simply because it comes from the Post is an ad hominem.

Beat the Press makes a daily blog out of calling out mainstream media errors, although BTP is often wrong too.

If you're not getting your news from a variety of sources, you're not getting news. On the other hand, always remember that many news sources get their "news" from the same sources. Good reporters have to build a reputation on digging beneath the crap to find the truffles.

define: "news"

It's not ad hominem to question a source's credibility when the facts are in dispute. Rather, it's an example of the proper exercise of judgment. Ad hominem is only a fallacy when objective information on the topic is available.

I would agree with you in general, but after the New York Times adopted the standard of "facts are false, but spin is correct" during the Bush Administration, I don't see how the NY Times deserves the credibility label.

I agree in principle that persons and entities build reputations of credibility or lack thereof. It's certainly a rational basis for double-checking the facts. But it remains an ad hominem if you are dismissing an argument based on its source rather than its premises and logical structure.

But we're talking about a news article, not a logical argument, so applying "ad hominem" really isn't appropriate anyway. My bad.

Apparently the kitchen staff made a public protest to the general assembly, but every story I've seen is using the NY Post as the source. And the article is going out of its way to make the whole shebang look like a relatively peaceful prison riot. Until I see some other sourcing, I'm dubious.

Only if the NYT story is about those ravening racist fascist hordes of Tea Partiers.

Conservative mega-church millionaires feeding the homeless?

If all you read were the NYTimes, you would think that the Tea Party is a group of vicious right-wing violent thugs, and that one of these vicious right-wing violent thugs killed a congresswoman in Arizona. You wouldn't know that Obama went to a racist church with a lunatic "priest" for twenty years or that John Edwards was a total sleaze ball, months after everyone else knew. You would think that the Duke fake-rape case was the most important story of the year, you would think that Stalin's Russia was the future and it worked, etc etc etc. The NYTimes is an arm of the "progressive" movement. Saying it should be taken with a truckload of salt is only fair warning.

1% of the US population is homeless from a report in 2009. according to Wikipedia.
haha, an article about how OWS will scale back its gourmet offerings should be taken with a grain of salt :)

Uh... no. Read your link. "As many as 3.5 million in a given year" experience an episode of homelessness, but "According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 643,067 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons nationwide as of January 2009." and "The chronically homeless population (those with repeated episodes or who have been homeless for long periods) fell from 175,914 in 2005 to 123,833 in 2007"

What, you mean they haven't been able to reach a General Assembly Graeberian Agreement about this? I thought it was campfire democracy (for which Goats Head would make more sense than cheese).

Monty Python comedy sketches about anarcho-syndicalist communes are no basis for a system of government.

But the sketch IS good:

The longer OWS sticks around and the more it becomes like a small government -- albeit one totally dependent on "foreign aid," read "outside donations" -- the more we can expect standard public choice pressures, commons issues, etc., to come into play. We've already seen this with that narrowly averted breakdown over, of all things, when the drummers could do their annoy-everyone-with-their-incessant-drumming thing.

It's all relative. As illustrated by the number of reported thefts within the commune, the 99% of OWS have turned against the 1% of OWS.

Wealth is more or less Pareto distributed. This means within any group there will always be the 1% and the 99%.

I think it's only Pareto at the upper tail. Maybe that's where OWS are...

Come on folks, everyone knows that CIA operatives changed the Flashmob meme by committing crimes on the outskirts of a Pittsburgh Flashmob several years ago. It got into the media and allowed public acceptance of crackdowns and imprisonment of innocent and naive college students that organized Flashmobs (aside: The govt intelligent peeps love the network effect theory, and ring theory, they try and use it Afghanistan only to have locals through gasoline on us and throw a match) There were some sorority and frat kids that were arrested for it at NC State. Flashmobs are the anarchists choice for the Panther Moderns, and it is quite brilliant, what a simple act the CIA did to end Flashmobs in this country.

This post is the exact same thing, be it indirect or direct manipulation of semantic bits in the infosphere.

You can't be a protesting w/o a permit folks, otherwise, chaos descends on the world.

Then again, what government isn't dependent on foreign aid and outside donations? The one that steals from its own citizens, I suppose. I have been saying for years that socialist programs abroad are more or less funded by American capitalism. One big heart pumps blood to every tumor in the world. What happens when the tumors spread to the heart?

Ha ha! Those people protesting the corporate kleptocracy are now being hoist by the abysmal state of the social safety net. Chuckle! Snicker.

Yeah! Free food for hardened criminals should be provided by the government!

instead, we should let people starve if they've been to jail once. Glad to see the "let him die" crowd has found its way to MR, too.

Actually, I think nobody should serve a third jail term. Two chances, and then on the third felony offense it's a mandatory death penalty. We ought to be executing fifty thousand criminals a year.

In public, too.

What do you mean let people starve? They can't buy food just because they are felons?

Yeah, they can just buy food with the wages form their job...being a felon makes it very easy to find work especially these days.

What are they doing feeding organic to adults?

"vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders " otherwise know as their constituency.


The 1% in the lower tail.

"there is a lesson to be learned beyond the chortle": yeah, but the chortle is the good bit. The lesson is the dismal sort of thing we learnt in the long ago.

The chortle is painful isn't it? Is Alex top quintile? Is he laughing that his unemployed graduates in the bottom quintile shouldn't gripe about feeding the bottom 1%?

I am seeing many more homeless in Southern California. If they had an #Occupy to feed them, I'm sure they'd be there.

The "Peace Camp" outside Parliament in London ( ) had a similar problem in that it attracted more and more homeless people who were pretending to be protesters, so that they could not be evicted from the square as easily as they otherwise could have been.

So, it's probably BS because it's in the NY Post, but if it were true, it would contain interesting information?

Great, thanks for posting.

Cowen really needs to line up some better guest bloggers.

Alex is always bitter because he'll always be second (at best) econ fiddle at GMU, a second (at best) tier institution itself.

Wow. Anyone got a link to that article about how people act like an ass when they are online anonymously? Seems fitting.

Alex, bitter? He's one of the least bitter bloggers out there. Anonymity has nothing to do with blindness.

I think Alex's posts are generally better than Tyler's. Alex should post more.

I like them both. Neither one strikes me as bitter, but bitter pill does.

Alex is just more polemical. He posts are more strongly worded than Tylers and are therefore more likely to get the readership fired up. I don't agree with his positions usually, but like Tyler's his posts invite a good dialogue in the comments.

Why is it when mainstream media covers OWS, it's generally a negative story with laughter in the subtext?

B/c it's often painfully clear that the OWS protesters often don't understand the way the world and economy works, so it's ironic when they learn about those things in their own little microcosm.

Maybe because OWS is a joke? It is hard to tell one without laughter in the subtext

Your statement simply isn't true, as a quick search of Google News will confirm.

These left-wing terrorists should be jailed. Damaging public property and surrounding private property is sufficient grounds to arrest them in large numbers. More than a third of these imbeciles advocate for direct violence to achieve their goals and two thirds want free government handouts for healthcare, education, and guaranteed living wage irrespective of employment (which can be only achieved by violence of the government).

"This is from the NYPost so take it with a grain of salt ..."

Amazing. Shyamalanesque twist ending to an outstanding blog post.

"... but still there is a lesson to be learned beyond the chortle."

Yes. The lesson to be learned, though, is not about OWS but about the author of the post.

You mad????

Have you read a NYP cover-to-cover before? Regardless of one's political affiliations, it's pretty hard not to see it for the tabloid rag of populist shock-journalism that it is.

It happens to be quite partisan, but that's not what's wrong with it. It's a shitty paper because it's a shitty paper W

shitty > evil

OWS is the 'let's dig holes and then fill them up" of our time. It is obvious to everyone that they are just there - there is no goal whatsoever. Still, people are donating money... they get to spend the day at the park, eat better than they would otherwise, sing stupid songs and even pose for pictures with tourists.

Our only hope is the winter.

At least that will kill the fleas and prevent the black death.

Yes, because it's always better to passively sit still for one's financial reaming.

Do mankind a favor and treat yourself a big glass of shut the fuck up.

Did you wonder outside of camp? I think it's back that way. You're missing Kumbaya.

The above was a response to FYI.

hahahaha but M. Dutton directions still apply! Just follow the stench

Remember Steve Jobs: 1955-2011. He was the 1%.

Yeah, remember one guy (Steve Jobs) while about 50 million people die every ten years from unnecessary causes - due to free-markets. Libertarian "morality."

haha why are you guys linking ny post articles

We are the middle 98 per cent! Not quite the same somehow.

hahahehe, their productivity gains have been distributed upward, toward the top 1 percent, over the last 30 years ... and now the people at the very bottom are taking advantage of them!

Thanks, Alex, for taking us one step at a time toward a better world.

Not sure what there is to chortle about. There is no irony or contradiction here. If you believe in social safety nets, you believe it is the job of /society/, not a group of volunteers (you can think of the OWS cooks as charity workers) to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves. If they came and asked people who think the government should create jobs directly for a job, we would laugh. If they asked for people who think the government should provide subsidies for energy for money for energy, we would laugh. OWS cooks are fighting for the rights of the 99%, including the homeless - be they mentally ill, drug addicted, or otherwise - but that doesn't mean they can supply them all. This is why you need a large pool (just like with insurance.) The fact that some of these people may be professional leeches is not relevant, and you all know it. Every social system has abusers.

Is there a better answer to social programs? Tyler has mentioned replacing them all with a guaranteed income, which sounds like an excellent idea. It's even better because it will deal with the extant and soon-to-be-forever-unemployable (because of things like automation) issue at the same time.

Chortle all you like, and make bad jokes about "irony", but there's a giant difference between demanding that society shoulder the burden, and one group relying solely on volunteers and contributions (a charity! Re-read what happened to charities during the original GD; many were overwhelmed and went bust.)

Yes, there is a giant difference between demanding that other people shoulder the burden and shouldering it yourself.

You have a valid point as far as it goes; however, I think that the irony most people see is more along these lines:

The protesters demand more income redistribution so that they can freeload off the rich, but they discover that they dislike freeloading when they are the ones being asked to give.

The protesters demand a more socialist society, but receive a life lesson in why socialism doesn't work.

Of course, whether you agree with this interpretation depends on your political philosophy.

Yes, the irony is about free riders. The protestors are free riders. They get upset when people free ride off of them.

You silly leftists only ever think about money. How much food gets grown and produced by guaranteed incomes and social safety nets.

The worst part of the OWS "movement" is that these people have completely forgotten what the production problem is.

But where... does money... come... from...?

(Blank out.)

Clearly a protest movement has failed when its volunteers cannot feed the homeless.

ah, volunteers can be so selfish sometimes.

Anyone remember that line the WSJ had about MR where they said that "intelligent conversation and serendipity are available on tap"? It seems like it gets more laughable with every post.

I have a meme idea but I don't have a copy of photoshop, so maybe somebody will like it and run with it. A picture of Ghandi with these words superimposed: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then its winter and you go back to your dorm room.

This has been denied:

The quality of the food at Occupy Wall Street has been well documented, but meals there will morph on Friday to more simple fare like rice and beans for three days -- not to dissuade undesirable elements from partaking, as the New York Post reported on Thursday, but simply to give the kitchen a chance to get organized, members of the food committee said. "No, no, no, we just need a chance to get organized," said food committee member Megan Hayes, when asked about the Thursday story.

Hayes said the kitchen is planning its stripped-back meals simply to give its committee members more time to strategize. "Because we hit the ground running, we became a full-on restaurant in the park in under a month without having a chance to have any organization, any clear guidelines for volunteers. We need a chance to catch our breath, to say alright, winter’s coming, we’re not going anywhere, how can we maximize our output and get as many people as possible fed."

"I can definitely tell you that none of us are concerned about 'freeloaders,' " said Chris O'Donnell, another organizer. "All of us have concerns about general camp security, but it wouldn’t be fair to say this is an attempt to get freeloaders or homeless people or anybody like that out of the park."

Alex, Tyler: I thought you'd like the best comment on this story so far, which was on the Dealbreaker thread:

"So at a price of zero, there is unlimited demand for organic chicken and the suppliers stop supplying. Who would have thought.

~Ghost of Milton Friedman"

How about this comment?

"There's no such thing as a free lunch." :)

The protesters demand more income redistribution so that they can freeload off the rich

Yup, that's what it's all about! Those guys getting huge bonuses after the government bailouts
earned every damned penny! Not like those selfish assholes running soup-kitchens!

The 'risk takers and entrepeneurs' know how to butter the bread.

How has everyone missed the most important part of the story at the end - sounds like a nice descent from socialism into a quasi-fascist organization. They're not there yet but they are on their way.

Rumors swirled that one homeless man had pulled a knife in a dispute the night before -- and that there had been yet another case of groping.
But protesters and a cop on duty told The Post that most of the crime goes unreported, because of a bizarre “stop snitching” rule.
“What’s happening in there is staying in there,” said the cop.

if you were a protester why would you think the cops would help you?

Probably because it's their job and they don't get evaluated based on how many victims they ignore. Even if they are petulant little buggers without a clue in the world.

Seriously? The cops are clearly on their side. These protests violate many laws (enacted against vagrants) yet the police let the violate the law. This is just the collective wanting to protect their image so they put enormous pressure on sexually abused women and men not to report it because it would hurt their image. Every cult and movement does that.

For clarification, "petulant little buggers" being the paranoid anti-cops contingent.

That is a very funny blog title.

The great thing about the Internet Age is that the stark differences between civilized and respectful Tea Party rallies and violent, hateful OWS protests can't be whitewashed away with friendly MSM coverage.

Oh, the times, they are a-changin...

Yeah, the difference in the media treatment is so obvious that even the non political people notice it. Remember when the Tea Party was considered dangerous because old white people raised their voice when talking to their elected representatives?

The Tea Party was a conspiracy based group who made completely unreliable claims about death panels and so on. Furthermore, they attracted absolute nuts like Lord Moncton who got party members to shout that "global warming" is a hoax. They also mocked disabled people and so on. They even threat to riot based on their conspiracy theories. Hardly a "respectful" movement by any imagination.

OWS does bring up real issues about wealth distribution (i.e., unjust distribution) which is caused by deregulation and the control private companies have over the government.

Of course the Libertarian turds here at Marginal Revolution probably thing Ron "Global Warming is a Hoax" Paul represents the legitimate movement.

Wait, I'm confused again. I thought the new position on death panels was that they were going to great for health care costs. Are we going back to the old position of "they don't exist?"

AGW isn't a hoax, it's just really bad, politicized, even conspiratorial science. I remember before ClimateGate, AGWers used to scoff at skeptics saying "There would have to be a conspiracy among climate scientists to suppress dissent! That's crazy talk!" And then, oh look, a conspiracy to suppress dissent -- well you have to understand, we're saving the planet here, and our critics are just tools of the oil companies or something.

You're funny. There never were death panels.

I love really bad science that 99% of scientists support. It must be horrible. It's ok, everyone knows it is happening now but the the liars and the corporations will stifle any action the front. Liberties and all. You have to understand, were killing the planet here. Liberties and all. I remember Rick Perry saying he thinks the verdict is still out on climate change. Liberties and all.

How dishonest.


" I remember before ClimateGate, AGWers used to scoff at skeptics saying “There would have to be a conspiracy among climate scientists to suppress dissent! That’s crazy talk!” And then, oh look, a conspiracy to suppress dissent — well you have to understand, we’re saving the planet here, and our critics are just tools of the oil companies or something."

Climatgate has been debunked, even by a Koch funded study:

I can't believe how seriously this is being taken; I'm not ridiculing anyone just can't quite understand why an obviously misguided protest should generate such interest

its irrational. where's kahneman and tversky when you need them.

Not sure about Kahneman but I believe Tversky's grave is in Israel

How is it misguided? Because they're not talking about the global warming hoax and the New World Order like Libertarian nuts?

One of the Libertarians at the Mises institute pulls down his pants and masturbates on youtube -- and he's considered the smart one at Mises forums. Is that the legitimate response to the recession? Are those the kind of people we're supposed to be taken seriously?

Given that it's been proven that the greatest crimes in history have been committed by private enterprise I think it's obvious that Libertarianism is a totalitarian joke.

I think the #OWS movement is influenced by Keynesian economics. If they're anti-capitalist, I think they're movement would be pointless if they aren't trying to construct a better society. It's pointless to "occupy wall street" just to get a point across as it will only waste people's time instead of actually helping anybody. However, they actually are setting up little communities and a "state within a state," if you will, so they are serious about real change.

misguided because different people give different reasons as to why they are doing what they are doing

i.e. the protest is missing guidance.

If you want to get serious about real change, it will take more than setting up communities and little states, the problem is a deep and complex one, not suited for a street protest.

Yet I note from a perusal of the pollster's piece in the WSJ that only 77% of OWS protestors believe in raising taxes on the very wealthy.

Who are the other 23%? Someone's not doing their job in terms of policing ideological conformity! Has the Party no Whip?

OWS is significant, not because it offers an alternative agenda, but because---despite a media industry whose foundational goal is to prevent genuine community organization---it has arisen.

Much of the ridicule and derision of Occupy protestors is payback for how the media covered the Tea Party. Remember the many months of gay sex act "secret" references on many national networks? Much can be learned about the media by comparing and contrasting the media coverage of the two movements.

So those bright-eyed, naive college kids are learning that some people go through life without paying for what they take and use, that some people feel they are owed something from everybody, that some people can't be rehabilitated into productive citizens and don't care to be so anyway...

Enjoy your education, squatters. Keep an eye on your ipod and your ipad, and try not to get hustled, robbed, raped, or killed out there in your utopia in the streets.

It seems to me the OWS crew helped shift national attention from austerity to stimulus (grounded in infrastructure-building job creation/retention). Seems pretty virtuous to me. They're into organic food freely shared but have limited tolerance for the lumpenproletariate- what do you expect, they're fairly good-natured white people, not some post-singularity FAI.

The impulse to chortle at their imperfection seems to me like the type of hedonistic expenditure, race to the bottom, social decision that may have cost us trillions over the years when knowledge of better public policy outpaced ability to overcome wicked coordination problems.

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