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The Transom: News and notes from around the web
October 13, 2011: Marketplace, Occupy Wall Street, Obama's Economy, The Field, Evening Edition, Lee Smith on the Copts, Youth and Hope 

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YOUR FIRST TASK TODAY:
 
David Frum leaves Marketplace, acknowledging that David Frum is out of step with conservatism, free market ideology, and the Republican Party. http://goo.gl/1h9xRSuggest Francis Cianfrocca as his replacement. letters@marketplace.com
 
ON OCCUPY WALL STREET:
 
Contra most of my friends, I think the Occupy Wall Street folks are a major missed opportunity for the Right.
 
Let me explain. It's not that I think they're some latent conservative movement. But at their core, I think they are animated by disgust with many of the same things that drove Tea Partiers to the streets. They are responding to their circumstances the only way they know how, thanks to a flawed mindset ingrained in them by teachers and leaders. Unfortunately, the Right is reacting not by advancing winning arguments to them, but by ridiculing them, conceding them to the radical Left.
 
But first, two items which make the point for me. Here, an excerpt from an essay by Thomas Sowell: http://goo.gl/73E07
---
Once upon a time, a grasshopper and an ant lived in a field. All summer long, the grasshopper romped and played, while the ant worked hard under the boiling sun to store up food for the winter.
 
When winter came, the grasshopper was hungry. One cold and rainy day, he went to ask the ant for some food.
 
"What are you, crazy?" the ant said. "I've been breaking my back all summer long while you ran around hopping and laughing at me for missing all the fun in life."
 
"Did I do that?" the grasshopper asked meekly.
 
"Yes! You said I was one of those old-fashioned clods who missed the whole point of the modern self-realization philosophy."
 
"Gee, I'm sorry about that," the grasshopper said. I didn't realize you were so sensitive. But surely you are not going to hold that against me at a time like this."
 
"Well, I don't hold a grudge... but I do have a long memory."
 
Just then, another ant came along.
 
"Hi, Lefty," the first ant said.
 
"Hi, George."
 
"Lefty, do you know what this grasshopper wants me to do? He wants me to give him some of the food I worked for all summer, under the blazing sun."
 
"I would have thought you would already have volunteered to share with him, without being asked," Lefty said.
 
"What!!"
 
"When we have disparate shares in the bounty of nature, the least we can do is try to correct the inequity."
 
"Nature's bounty, my foot," George said. "I had to tote this stuff uphill and cross a stream on a log... all the while looking out for ant-eaters. Why couldn't this lazy bum gather his own food and store it?" ...
 
Lefty looked pained. "I'm surprised at your callousness, George... your selfishness, your greed."
 
"Have you gone crazy, Lefty?"
 
"No. On the contrary, I have become educated." ...
 
Lefty not only won the argument, he continued to expand his program of shelters for grasshoppers. As word spread, grasshoppers came from miles around. Eventually, some of the younger ants decided to adopt the grasshopper lifestyle.
 
As the older generation of ants passed from the scene, more and more ants joined the grasshoppers, romping and playing in the fields. Finally all the ants and all the grasshoppers spent all their time enjoying the carefree lifestyle and lived happily ever after, all summer long. Then the winter came.
---
Here’s an excerpt from Eric Teetsel's experience, talking to an Occupy Wall Street original, from an essay in the next edition of The City:
--
After a few minutes, Ted got to talking about healthcare. He surprised me by admitting that he didn’t think the federal government could do a very good job at managing it. He described a vision wherein each state was charged with providing care as it saw fit. Such a system would enable fifty laboratories of innovation that could experiment and share best practices.
 
Dumbfounded, I said, “Ted, have you heard of Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicaid?” I explained that Ryan wanted to give states block grants of federal money and allow each to determine how to best spend the money.
 
“What do you think?” I asked.
 
“I’m all for that!” He exclaimed.
 
It’s unlikely that Ted woke up the next morning, shaved his beard, and applied for a job at the Heritage Foundation. But our short conversation planted a seed and showed Ted that maybe conservative ideas aren’t all bad.
--
The inherent belief among most Americans is that you direct your destiny. Essentially, this boils down to the idea that with hard work and time and energy you can reach out and seize the future you want for yourself.
 
This contrasts strongly with the attitude of most of Europe and Asia, where destiny is not subject to individual pursuit. Instead, you live instead within a world outside your control, where you navigate between social and economic barriers within your time.
 
This creates a point of view where life is about navigating within a world outside of your control. You are powerless as the sailor is over the waves of the sea. Thus, the only response to bad situations is an appeal to the enshrined other, the powerbrokers and larger forces, for rescue, protection, and fair treatment.
 
In New York City and elsewhere, the Occupy gatherings are an expression of this. They are an inchoate appeal by the distressed, the unemployed, and the frustrated for help from higher powers. They are disgusted with what they perceive as the unfairness of life. They are disgusted by bailouts and corporate cronyism and a government that is not solving the problems they face in life. This is not an inherently leftist movement. It is a cry for help from an uninformed, frustrated America.
 
Yes, a portion of them are old guard hippies bent on drum circles and jazz hand assemblies, aimed at bending the naive and the uninformed to the vile lie of socialism. They laud the idols of free crap and deviance. They play Lefty to the Grasshopper. But the response of the right is not to advance an alternate argument or convince the Grasshopper that he would be better off with a paycheck instead of an unemployment check; instead, our response is ridicule and anger.
 
Fairness is not an idea at war with liberty and free enterprise - in fact, it is at its core. The case for equality of opportunity is one that can win hearts and minds. As Calvin Coolidge said, "Democracy is not a tearing down; it is a building up. It is not denial of the divine right of kings; it asserts the divine right of all men." The meritocracy of earned success is not something these protesters should find unacceptable.
 
A colleague of mine went down to the Occupy Chicago event the other day intending to make a video mocking the protesters. They asked them why they hated capitalism, they tried to provoke them into expressions of stupidity. But instead of angry socialists, they found the frustrated unemployed. "We don't hate capitalism," one of them said, "we just want it to work again."
 
If the right ignores this opportunity, these people, desperate and frustrated and uncertain where to turn, will end up on the side that will do nothing but harm them. And it is happening as we speak.
 
OBAMA’S ECONOMY:
 
Having a job in Obama’s economy isn’t as great as it used to be. http://goo.gl/OzePv  “The plight of America’s unemployed is terrible. Yet for the 91 percent of those in the U.S. labor force who do have a job, the numbers also tell a dark story. Take-home pay, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.3 percent in August, the third decrease in five months, the Commerce Dept. just reported. The declines followed news from the Census Bureau that median household income in 2010 fell to $49,445, the lowest in more than a decade, while the poverty rate jumped to 15.1 percent, a 17-year high… By contrast, in the 1960s, household debt was low, savings were high, and salaries were heading steadily up. And since the end of the 2007-2009 recession, according to Sentier Research, a firm headed by a former top Census Bureau official, those not in the labor force have fared better on average than those who are. Retirees, for example, get their Social Security payments adjusted for inflation. Few workers today enjoy that benefit.”
 
RELATED: How Obama blames Democracy for the weak economy. http://goo.gl/3xsNN  Fed officials seek to retain QE3 option. http://goo.gl/Y0Xdl Obama’s remedial math lesson. http://goo.gl/Cvp4j Harrisburg files for Chapter 9. http://goo.gl/MTtms  Recovery begins with addressing housing. http://goo.gl/EEahZ  The struggling small business sector. http://goo.gl/a3U3L Banks begin demolishing foreclosed properties. http://goo.gl/rG0vu Only 35% of Americans confident in banking system. http://goo.gl/Qrpsx  TNR against the protesters. http://goo.gl/NGjYr  The end of comfortable Keynesianism. http://goo.gl/IniZc  “Sexual revolutiooooon.”  http://goo.gl/vB6Mu  Gullible occupiers. http://goo.gl/P0CwA  Greed and Hippies. http://goo.gl/eHO1w   Contrasts. http://goo.gl/miJ8X  Economic freedom in America. http://goo.gl/yL7GA Fla Gov. Rick Scott singles out anthropology degrees as useless in this job market. http://goo.gl/Y3wx0  He should know, since his daughter is one.
 
THE FIELD:
 
NBC/WSJ: Cain 27%, Romney 23%, Perry 16%. PDF here: http://goo.gl/W9ZZu  Nate Silver of 538 writes on Twitter (@fivethirtyeight): “Think I've become bearish on Romney relative to conventional wisdom (and betting markets). Had been a Romney bull up 'til now. Overlooked and important: Perry has lost about 15 points in the polls, but almost NONE of that has gone to Romney. So say Cain's support implodes (certainly possible). Does that support go to Romney? Seems more likely it goes back to Perry.”
 
New Hampshire primary could be December 6th. http://goo.gl/PMmE9  If they actually do this, I favor a three-cycle SMU-style death penalty. New Hampshire spends twelve years in the penalty box.
 
Hillary the Inevitable. http://goo.gl/Umeqs  Obama team expects Romney to be the nominee. http://goo.gl/B6Zqt   Could Mitt suffer a Hillary moment? http://goo.gl/4CN0y
 
Furchtgott-Roth on 9-9-9: http://goo.gl/CXbQa  “Where his 999 plan is most troublesome is its proposal for a national sales tax. The sales tax is not just an afterthought, but would eventually replace income and corporate taxes. National sales taxes have risen steadily in countries where they have been implemented, notably Europe. Just one example among many: a value-added tax started in Britain at 10 percent in 1973, and is now 20 percent. The temptation to increase it a little at a time seems to be irresistible to governments looking to spend even more. The notion implicit in Mr. Cain's proposal that a country can impose a small, single-digit sales tax that will not creep up is not supported by other countries' experience. Thirty OECD countries have VATs, and only three, namely Canada, Japan, and Switzerland, apply rates under 10%. In many countries the VAT is the largest source of revenue. To give Mr. Cain the benefit of the doubt, perhaps as president he could keep the national sales tax at 9 percent. But what if he were replaced by a president who was not committed to low taxes? One of the first actions of that new president might be to raise the sales tax a percentage point.”
 
Pete Wehner on the no religious test clause. http://goo.gl/M5XCJ  So wait, he’s saying that what government can’t/shouldn’t do is the same as what individuals can’t/shouldn’t do?  Major difference between individual calculations and what is (and ought to be) required by law. A Gallup poll as of last cycle said 53% of Americans won’t vote for an atheist for President. Pete Wehner judges you if you agree!
 
RELATED: Chris Christie’s infinite pie would be a pretty good band name. http://goo.gl/NHXHX   Norquist blasts 9-9-9. http://goo.gl/0r00p  Pethokoukis says a bad plan beats no plan. http://goo.gl/3bvXi  Who are you calling a party switcher? http://goo.gl/yFOyi   The Perry performance. http://goo.gl/Dke2m  Romney’s kudzu campaign. http://goo.gl/WKqnS  Santorum works his image… I like the guy, but a bit late for that. http://goo.gl/Gh8GQ  Why are Cain’s advisors secret? http://goo.gl/v2gEX  Cain vows to add staff. http://goo.gl/n0bLX His current folks are overwhelmed. http://goo.gl/cDIQH  Newt boom next? http://goo.gl/21Dcu 
 
TRANSOM, EVENING EDITION:
 
If you want a great companion piece to The Transom in the evenings, I’d urge you to subscribe to Melissa Clouthier’s email (subscription box on the right side). http://goo.gl/6ah7k  Perhaps the most influential Tea Party blogger to emerge over the past three years, she catches a great number of things I miss during the day.
 
FEATURE:
 
Lee Smith  says the Copts will fight, but they won’t win. http://goo.gl/DdNSx
 
ITEMS OF INTEREST:
 
VDH:  When zealots are no longer zealous. http://goo.gl/0oLrl
 
Even a Slovak yes may make no difference. http://goo.gl/9iI1s
 
Saudis say Iran must “pay the price” for assassination plot. http://goo.gl/6wWEw  A wag the dog moment, or a sideshow? http://goo.gl/XcMiq
 
Clinton’s sweet and sour China soup. http://goo.gl/R0wnI
 
Haiti doesn’t need your old t-shirt. http://goo.gl/xxHHH
 
The trouble with Turkey. http://goo.gl/Okt9n
 
Afghanistan’s opium output surges. http://goo.gl/YQI2p
 
House approves trade deals. http://goo.gl/oNYY1
 
Will conservatives surrender on the supercommittee. http://goo.gl/t82dU
 
Singapore’s economic growth isn’t. http://goo.gl/w8xPY
 
Child sacrifice in Africa. http://goo.gl/14jAs
 
Here comes the abortion issue. http://goo.gl/CeA4M  Sebelius pushes White House to threaten veto. http://goo.gl/ccWIw  Tells Chicago fundraiser: “We’re at war.” http://goo.gl/3X8Po 
 
TARP after three years. http://goo.gl/E1qgX
 
Blame Obamacare for higher premiums. http://goo.gl/g6nyd
 
For Senate and parliamentary procedure wonks. http://goo.gl/B2cGQ
 
Prison time for insider trading climbs. http://goo.gl/LnVP1
 
The higher ed bubble. http://goo.gl/vM5FP
 
The climate change change. http://goo.gl/iBKVg
 
Stifling medical device innovation. http://goo.gl/Mre1d
 
In the email: “The Examiner's transformation of capable reporters into axe-grinding, mediocre columnists is a crime.” http://goo.gl/A9RGj 
 
Government pulls plug on Michelle Obama’s pet junk food project. http://goo.gl/0ahPS
 
AOL HuffPo Yahoo? http://goo.gl/rRWEK
 
Apropos of nothing: I would love for Joe Biden to call sports. http://goo.gl/L2VJT
 
A long, sad essay on the decay of the Red Sox. http://goo.gl/RTvlQ  Well, sad if you’re a Red Sox fan.
 
The entirety of Commando, the greatest movie ever made. http://goo.gl/uxQ1d
 
The funnel baconator. http://goo.gl/H9W1n
 
I hate parking tickets. http://goo.gl/9ucTp
 
Bangkok flood. http://goo.gl/9Fd3G
 
PODCAST:
 
The real lives of Terrorists. http://goo.gl/kPC7g
 
QUOTE:
 
“Youth is the period in which a man can be hopeless. The end of every episode is the end of the world. But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged.” – G.K. Chesterton
 
RECOMMENDED:
 
Tell Em What Your Name Is!, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, $8. Find this and more recommendations at The Transom's Amazon Store: http://goo.gl/zLI8c

This collection of news and notes from around the web is edited by Benjamin Domenech, research fellow at The Heartland Institute, co-host of the daily Coffee & Markets podcast, and editor in chief of The City, a journal on faith, politics, and culture published by Houston Baptist University. The views and opinions expressed within are his alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of his employers. If you like The Transom, by all means share it with friends, who can subscribe at: http://bendomenech.com/transom
 
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