The ideologies and demographics of the Occupy Wall Street movement have been obscured by disorganization and media rhetoric, but emerging surveys and analyses are attempting to decipher the defining attributes of the rooted crowds in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park and in other cities across the country. Who are these protesters? What are their political ideologies? Are they educated? Do they have jobs? In a poll conducted by Costas Panagopoulos, a political science professor at Fordham University in New York, a team of 15 researchers ventured out to survey 301 New York protesters to find the answers to these questions.
"We’ve had a lot of speculation about who these people are," the professor commented, adding, "Some of what we found reinforced what many already believed, and some results were surprising." In the survey, Panagopoulos and his team focused on characteristics relating to the movement’s demographics and political beliefs to better understand the catchy, but somewhat esoteric, signs and slogans that have painted the media headlines over the past several weeks.
The poll, sponsored by Fordham’s Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy, found that New York’s OWS movement is 68 percent white and 61 percent male. While 28 percent of the protesters are unemployed, most are college graduates and 22 percent hold advanced college degrees. Of those who are currently employed, 30 percent claim to work full-time and 18 percent work part-time.
The September 15 report from the National Petroleum Council expressed surprise at how much has changed just since their “Hard Truths” report of 2007 that domestic energy development was falling behind escalating demand. The “Hard Truths” report stated that although “the world is not running out of energy resources … there are accumulating risks to continuing expansion of oil and natural gas production … [which] create significant challenges to meeting projected total energy demand.” As a result, the concept of “Energy Independence” is “not realistic in the foreseeable future” and therefore “the United States must moderate the growing demand for energy.”
In NPC’s letter to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu introducing the latest study, chairman James Hackett said
Extraordinary events have affected energy markets in the years since the NPC reported on the “Hard Truths” about energy in 2007. That study concluded that the world would need increased energy efficiency and all economic forms of energy supply.
This is still true today, but since then, significant technology advances have unlocked abundant natural gas and oil resources. These greatly expanded resources have already benefited our country economically. Increased supplies of natural gas have resulted in lower prices and helped revitalize many U.S. industries.
The days of tax-free Internet shopping may soon be coming to an abrupt end, if two Republican senators have their way. Sens. Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee are currently preparing to introduce new legislation that would allow states to force Amazon.com and other out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes. Their bill has the backing of several key corporate retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores, Best Buy, Home Depot, and other companies that are currently required to collect sales taxes. At issue is whether online retailers should have to collect sales taxes in states where they’re making sales. Currently, online shoppers are supposed to report purchases for tax purposes but usually don’t.
"It's time to close the online sales tax loophole," says Jason Brewer, a vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association in Arlington, Va., which represents big box stores. "Amazon and companies like it are no longer fledgling startups."
The Republican-led legislative effort has a clear precedent in legislation introduced by Senate Democrats last year. The so-called Main Street Fairness Act of 2010 was introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and called for taxes on online purchases, under the presumption that local retail outfits are placed at a comparative disadvantage to online retailers due to discrepancies in taxation. The justification for these measures is a reprise of arguments that state tax collectors have made for at least a decade: they claim that Amazon.com, Overstock.com, Blue Nile, and other online retailers that don't always collect taxes are unreasonably depriving states of revenue, and that they enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over local retailers that must collect taxes, according to CNET’s Declan McCullagh.
I have noticed that there are some on the libertarian right who appear to consider themselves kindred spirits with those who have spent the last few weeks “occupying” Wall Street and other cities throughout America and beyond. This is disheartening, for what it reveals is that those who should presumably know better than all others how best to nurture and strengthen liberty are, in actuality, as ignorant of its true character as its greatest enemies.
Note, I do not suggest that the libertarian’s professions of love for liberty are insincere. Quite the contrary, for it is most likely his fanaticism for his beloved that imperils the latter. It is the libertarian’s zeal for liberty that corrupts his intellect. Like the hyper-jealous husband whose obsession with his wife renders him either forgetful of or oblivious to the real nature of marital love, so the libertarian is similarly forgetful of or oblivious to the real nature of liberty.
Bear in mind that the libertarianism that is the object of my critique is not the only school of thought so-called. “Libertarianism” is a term invariably associated today with a particular cast of mind. But there is another, older political philosophic orientation that, though of a fundamentally different kind, is no less deserving of the name.
When Ben Franklin declared, “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” he wisely predicted that the American people would often be prone to willingly forego their rights for so-called protection from the federal government. The clearest example of that has been with the inception of the PATRIOT Act, which has garnered a surprising level of support from the majority of Americans; however, there are a number of local examples of that exchange of liberty for safety as well. The most recent example can be found in cities across the country: high tech street lights which act as surveillance cameras as well as display signs.
Produced by Illuminating Concepts, the “Intellistreets” feature motion sensors and video surveillance, and are composed of a “wireless digital infrastructure that allows them to be controlled remotely by means of a ubiquitous wi-fi link and a miniature computer housed inside each street light, allowing for ‘security, energy management, data harvesting and digital media,’” reports Prison Planet.
The devices are also set to aid the Department of Homeland Security by displaying “security announcements.” CBS Detroit reports, “The signs can be programmed by authorities to show any message — a civic welcome, directions to parking for festivals or farmer’s markets, maps, pretty much anything the imagination can conceive. In emergencies, they can also post pictures of children being sought in Amber Alerts or the location of toxic chemical releases or the paths of tornadoes (and more importantly, how to stay away from those dangerous areas)."
As GOP presidential contender Herman Cain is contending with allegations of sexual harassment, some critics assert there are more pressing items for which Cain should answer, most notably, his foreign policy and his views on the engagement of war. Appearing on Fox News’ most popular program, The O’Reilly Factor, Cain indicated that he sees no issue with entering into a military confrontation with Iran.
Even as Congress considers legislation that would vastly expand the powers of the U.S. Border Patrol to enter land controlled by other federal agencies, the Obama administration has ordered that same agency to scale back its search for illegal aliens. One of the effective programs conducted by the Border Patrol has been to routinely conduct searches for illegal aliens on buses, trains, and airports along the northern border. Now, however, the current administration is quietly bringing such searches to an end. Associated Press reporter Gene Johnson explains:
The U.S. Border Patrol has quietly stopped its controversial practice of routinely searching buses, trains and airports for illegal immigrants at transportation hubs along the northern border and in the nation's interior, preventing agents from using what had long been an effective tool for tracking down people here illegally, The Associated Press has learned.
Current and former Border Patrol agents said field offices around the country began receiving the order last month - soon after the Obama administration announced that to ease an overburdened immigration system, it would allow many illegal immigrants to remain in the country while it focuses on deporting those who have committed crimes.
While the Obama administration’s standard policy has been a constant expansion of intrusive government, it has decided that the solution to the crisis of illegal immigration is not more rigorous enforcement of the law, but to curtail enforcement. It is hard to attribute any need for such curtailment to a lack of available manpower; after all, some agents serving in offices near the northern border have complained of a lack of sufficient work to keep them occupied.
A District Court judge in Goffstown, New Hampshire has dismissed a criminal charge against a Weare man for recording his conversation with a police officer during a traffic stop. Judge Edward Tenney followed a recent First Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Boston in Glik v. Cunniffe in ruling that William Alleman was within his constitutional rights when making an audio recording of Weare Police Officer Brandon Montplaisir during the traffic stop on July 10, 2010.
The recording was made via cellphone when Alleman called Porcupine 911, an answering service for libertarian activists, as the officer approached Alleman's car. Though the charge was not filed until the following February, Alleman's attorney, Seth Hipple, told The New American on Thursday that the officer was aware at the time he was being recorded and told Alleman that it was illegal to record him without his permission. Alleman insisted he had a right to do so, and Judge Tenney agreed, citing the First Circuit's ruling in the Glik case.
“Glik leaves no doubt that engaging in an audio recording of a police officer in the course of his official duties in a public place is protected speech under the First Amendment,” Tenney wrote. The judge also found that Alleman had in no way interfered with the officer in the performance of his duties.
“The fact that Officer Montplaisir may have been unwilling or unhappy being recorded does not make a lawful exercise of the defendant's First Amendment rights a crime,” Tenney wrote.
The U.S House of Representatives voted 396-9 on November 1 to affirm “In God We Trust” as the official national motto of the United States. Reported the New York Times: “The resolution … is designed to clear up any confusion over the motto’s official status and to encourage schools and other public institutions to display it, said Representative J. Randy Forbes, Republican of Virginia and the measure’s sponsor.” Forbes explained that “what’s happened over the last several years is that we have had a number of confusing situations in which some who don’t like the motto have tried to convince people not to put it up.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s statistical and testing arm, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), released its latest “progress” report November 1st: The survey measuring fourth- and eighth-grade scores on the controversial National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, was billed as having found “significant” improvement for both grades in math and a slight improvement in reading — until one examines the numbers. The Washington Times piece by Ben Wolfgang, reported that reading scores among fourth-graders “remained flat on the study’s 500-point scale,” results that overall fall far short of the proficiency standards set for 2014 in math, reading and science by the No Child Left Behind Act. This Act is currently being rewritten to provide waivers and other changes to accommodate its failure without admitting so outright.
But a graph depicting the just-released NAEP scores, published by Associated Press as percentage figures in the print edition of The Washington Times piece, shows at most, a 2-percent change in both subjects between 2009 and 2011. Note that there is always at least a 3-percent margin of error for such statistics, which tells us these numbers mean precisely — nothing.
And what of Asian minorities, which have historically done considerably better than whites, blacks or Hispanics? Scores for Asians were not broken out; the only mention from the NCES site is that they were unchanged — indicating that Asians are still doing better at the same comparative rate.