Let them be heard
While I was on vacation some last month, a reader left a voice mail inquiring why The Sun had not been covering the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Not having been privy to any news decisions while I was out, I couldn’t say. Nor could I say why the major news media were giving the demonstrations little or no attention.
But I can speculate.
The first thing is that, this being America, someone is always demonstrating against something, so protests, even large ones, tend not to get much in the way of ink or pixels. The second is that the major news organizations, having been accused of bias ever since Spiro Agnew was taking payoffs and Richard Nixon was attempting to subvert the Constitution, are skittish about appearing sympathetic to lefties.
Now the protests against corporations, every bit as inchoate as those of the tea party, have swelled to dimensions not to be ignored, and that is probably to the good.
I marveled at the tea party, organizing on the Internet, which was created and made available free to all by the government,* and traveling on roads and streets built by the government, would appear to voice a belief that we cannot trust our elected government but should instead trust corporations.
The same thing mystified me during the debate over President Obama’s health care plan. Are there people who feel affection for their insurance companies, who admire and respect the faceless functionaries who increase their premiums every year and then, when illness strikes, deny coverage? When people complained that the Obama plan would subject us to choking paperwork and arbitrary decisions made by unaccountable officials, I wondered what the bumf** they thought we have now.
Not that I enjoy a pure and unsullied faith in our government. Both the left and the right have their favorite lists of ineptitude and waste, and it is quite right that they should be leveling those accusations. The Founders were distrustful of government, devising stratagems to cub the powers of each of the three main branches, and they would approve of our skepticism.
But I have worked for corporations for the past three decades, and the experience has sharpened rather than dulled my skepticism about their wisdom. And the current economic slump, to which the major banks and investment houses made such important contributions, has not left me any more sanguine.
So, the tea party has enjoyed its time in the public eye, and now others want a turn. I say let the people be heard. The goose having been sauced, bring on the gander.
*D’you think that it IBM or Apple had developed the Internet, it would be free for you to use?
**Bumf is a lovely bit of British slang for official forms and paperwork. It is a shortened form of bumfodder, that is, toilet paper.