My last post poked a little fun at the Occupy movement. What can I say? I just can't resist such low hanging fruit! Seriously though, aside from hygiene and a disturbing number of anarchists, anti-semites and commies, at the heart of it, it could be argued that Occupy is sort of following in the Tea Party's footsteps. Both want to end the FED, both are vehemently against bank bailouts, and both see crony capitalism as the disease that is crippling this great nation. Unfortunately, the most glaring difference between the two groups is that the Tea Party holds government responsible, and Occupiers think government is the solution.
At least, until now.
In an interesting series of events, it came to light that the Mayor of Richmond, apparently an Occupy sympathizer, has been passing on the costs of the occupation to the taxpayer, instead of requiring the Occupiers to foot the bill as the Tea Party was. Over the past three years, the local Tea Party chapter has held Tax Day rallies and were required to pay for permits and other fees, to the tune of about $8,500. When the Tea Party realized the Occupiers were getting a free ride, they submitted an invoice to City Hall for reimbursement of the fees they have paid, citing fair treatment under the law.
The city's response? Why, an audit, of course.
The Tea Party isn't going down fighting, and is preparing a lawsuit. What is really surprising is the group that is standing with the Tea Party against the democrat-led City Hall. This weekend Occupy Richmond voiced their solidarity (via Fox News):
“Occupy Richmond believes in absolute free speech, including the right to criticize the government without fear of retribution," Occupy Richmond said in a statement posted Thursday on its website. "Given the duplicitous and violent manner in which the city government chose to raid our peaceful occupation, it would not surprise us if the recently announced city audit of the Richmond Tea Party were retaliation for their criticism of the mayor.”
The statement also called audits "bureaucratic harassment" and "one weapon oppressive regimes use to silence dissent."
"Not only do we call on the city to drop the audit, but we also demand the immediate refund of any money paid specifically to secure the Tea Party's free speech and assembly privileges,” the Occupiers said.
Okay, so there's still a little room for improvement. Apparently the Occupy spokesperson doesn't understand that the charges don't just disappear. Those fees cover the cost of cleanup or damage to facilities incurred during the exercise of free speech. The magical creatures who pick up the tab for the mess are not social justice fairies flitting from camp to camp, happy to spend their stardust for the cause. In reality, the people who pay are fellow Americans who have been busy working, not camping, and will see their taxes go up as a result of the shenanigans in cities across the land. Tea Party spokeswoman Colleen Owens was happy to have the moral support, but commented that they don't want the taxpayer to foot the bill - that isn't the point of the suit:
“But this has never been about the money. It was about the principal," Owens said. "A public official should not be able to pick and choose which groups are charged."
It is a refreshing change to see the Occupiers starting to identify the government - and not just republicans, but majority party democrats, too - as a major player in the ills of the day. It was almost heartwarming to see them actually protesting President Obama on one of his many, many, many trips to Wall Street for fundraising cash. They grow up so fast, don't they? Gee, perhaps if the Occupiers went home and sat down and talked to their Tea Party parents, maybe common ground could be established. And maybe, after that, common sense.
Two things to remember about these angry, disillusioned kids: First, as Churchill said, show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains. Second, sometimes a conservative is just a liberal who was mugged by reality. There has been a mass mugging (sometimes literally) in parks and plazas across the country over the past few months as those who were once embraced and celebrated became those who were being either co-opted or ignored (Tea Partiers can definitely empathize with that). Some poor souls have even been traumatized by it all.
All we can hope is that the rest open their ears (and minds) and start thinking. Many of our centers for higher education, where we send our children to learn how to think, have become indoctrination centers where they are taught what to think. Perhaps the disillusionment of their failed experiment in commune-ism will get them thinking. If Richmond is any indication, the worm may be turning.
Could it be that the spring might bring a new crop of protests featuring not just Occupiers, but Tea Partiers, too, standing together as one against the banks and politicians? Now there's a thought.
And if that doesn't work? Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! (or become a competitor!)