Tea and The Street

The media are abuzz this week with comparisons of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. Many are eager to point out similarities, particularly in the trajectories of their media coverage.

The fundamental difference between them, however, is being ignored. The Tea Party is a local phenomenon while Occupy Wall Street has become a global movement.

The Tea Party proclaims government as the one true bad guy. Reduce government and cut taxes and all will be well. Occupy Wall Street, meanwhile, is accused of having no message and no demands – no recipe for reform, no cure. The two movements are speaking different languages – and now as the cause spreads this is true literally as well.

Bill Frezza, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said on NPR’s Morning Edition (October 4, 2011) that “business is not run for the benefit of the country.” Nor does the corporation create jobs, he said, except indirectly as a consequence of growth. In fact business regards job creation as “expense creation” and therefore something to be avoided. The segment (and transcript) are here: Venture Capitalist Warns of Job Creation Myths. This is our local, Tea Party language.

The language of the global movement has its root in humanity. It speaks in the voices of ordinary people whose gifts are unwanted by the economy. It takes as given that society would be better off if these gifts could be given.

The challenges that face humanity are larger than the individual, larger than the corporation, perhaps even larger than the United States of America. They will not be solved today, this quarter, this election cycle, or even this generation.