For the past several weeks, we have been treated (subjected) to the "occupation" phenomenon.
Originating as "Occupy Wall Street," this protest against bankers, corporations, speculators and any and all who constitute the "oppressive" top 1 percent of the accumulators of wealth has spread to cities both large and small.
Reaction to the occupiers has been mixed, primarily along party lines. Republicans and conservative pundits have largely ignored or ridiculed the movement, while reactions from Democrats and the mainstream media have included total support, tentative backing and hoping against hope that gatherings remain orderly and nonviolent, as not to embarrass their sponsors. Progressives have likened the protests to those of the tea party.
Any comparison of the occupiers to the tea partyers is patently ludicrous. Whether one agrees with the aims of the tea party conservatives, that movement is composed of grown-ups who pony up for permits to gather, show up, speak up and clean up after themselves. None of these are attributes demonstrated by the occupy movement.
I won't reiterate the antics and excesses of the dissenters as they are readily available on YouTube and similar outlets. Not surprisingly, their ranks are swelled by 9/11 "truthers," Gray and Black Panthers, social and economic justice advocates, anti-capitalists, aging leftovers of the anti-Vietnam War movement and the lovable, hygienically challenged, work-averse rabble that can be counted on to show up in response to any and all dissent.
To those old enough to remember, the followers of the occupy movement bear a greater resemblance to Al Capp's SWINE (Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything) satirical caricature of 1960s protest groups than to the tea parties.
I have little doubt that those who initiated Occupy Wall Street were armed with the best of intentions; nevertheless, the intent is totally bereft of reality. Some inscribed a list of 13 proposed demands, running the gamut of utopian desires to expand social and economic justice by ending capitalism — translation: helping themselves to other people's money.
These demands included a living wage for all regardless of employment, a free college education, an immediate trillion dollars each for infrastructure and ecological restoration, all nuclear power plants decommissioned, immediate, across-the-board debt forgiveness and a racial and gender equal rights amendment.
How is any reasoned individual expected to react seriously to a bizarre wish list such as this one?
The most disturbing aspect by far of the occupy protests is the attempted pitting of the "impoverished and oppressed" 99 percent of the population against the top 1 percent, an ugly exercise in class warfare.
And to be perfectly clear, the sponsor of this class envy is the president, who since his election has demonized Wall Street, "fat cat bankers," corporate America and the wealthy as the root cause of the economic crisis.
While the frustration over the flawed economy and the lack of jobs is understood, the notion that the 99 percent of the population who are not millionaires or richer are somehow entitled to share the wealth of those who have earned it is an irrational absurdity.
As a matter of fact, I and almost everyone I know has a membership in the 99 percent and have absolutely no designs on that which was earned by others.
The United States of America has long been the envy of the world as a land of opportunity, a nation in which anyone with the determination and initiative can succeed in amassing wealth.
Along with that opportunity for success is an inalienable right to fail — the Declaration of Independence guaranteed only the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Achievement of that pursuit is an individual responsibility.
In closing, I offer this advice to those participating in the occupy movements:
You have made the point that you are unhappy with the government, which has failed somehow to provide you with the sustenance to which you think you are entitled.
The scope of your demands and proposed solutions are unreasonable inasmuch as they are little more than a call for redistribution of wealth.
Consequently, you should quit while you are still treading water and before the senseless and uncontrollable violence that tends to become part and parcel of objective-deficient and disorganized demonstrations destroys your movement and what little credibility remains.
Demands for economic justice do not justify picking the pockets of the more affluent among us.
J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.