What happens with the kids in Zuccotti Park remains to be seen, but it was time to clean the place out - call it a humanitarian gesture. Everyone knows temperatures are decreasing, and Occupy protestors had already begun to hunker down for winter. They began to erected several military-style tents as large as cottages to fend off snow and freezing temperatures.
Apparently there could be as many as thirty of these tents in place by the time it gets really cold ... if protestors win legal battles. That said, there is no doubt some protestors will leave either way. If there is a repeat of last year's winter, it will be brutal, even deadly. Already there is something called "Occupy cough" that could be a combination of tuberculosis and other ailments.
As this is being hashed out in court, the movement has begun to fade. Some cities are taking a tougher approach (the Occupy Portland disbandment saw 70 dump trucks needed to haul off trash), and inertia is also kicking in. Don't get me wrong; there will be those that are hanging around the park years from now like that lost Japanese soldier living in the jungles of Guam, decades after Japan surrendered. Shoichi Yokoi was found and finally surrendered in January 24, 1972, after 28 years of surviving on coconuts, breadfruits, papayas, snails, eels and rats. A tailor before the war, he made his own clothes from plants and leaves.
There are rats in Zucotti Park, but none of the other food-sources that kept Yokoi alive are present, so protestors would have to use food carts which kind of usurp the anti-capitalism message. The bottom line is the movement is fading, and its golden opportunity has been missed in part because those involved allowed unions and anarchists to take control.
The Legacy and Shining Example Growing in Lower Manhattan
In the meantime, a real legacy is being established in the upper regions of Manhattan's financial district, just a block from Zuccotti Park. The Freedom Tower is looking great and inspirational. Years ago I was in Fox News doing a live hit from across the street, and I remarked that we as a nation and Wall Street could never reach its precious greatness until the tower was built.
A good friend of mine works in construction at ground Zero and, in fact, is on his third job site. He notes how much smoother and professional it's going than before when there was a rush to get it done as fast as possible.
He is the typical old-school hardhat kind of guy that has more faith in the guy carrying a lunchbox than in the one with a briefcase. He is also down to earth and very observant as well.
He is a die-in-wool liberal, but doesn't get the kids in the park. (He also noted that the park smelled like his old lizard cage from his childhood pet.) He works in the clouds in harsh elements and takes immense pride in the fact that his hands are being used to build something that should stand the test of time and be a conduit for positive change and opportunities. So, while all the media is focused on a handful of people on the ground, the greatness of America is rapidly raising into the sky. In the end this building will house workers, innovators, and job creators that do great things that help our nation live up to its need to be great.
In the meantime I wish I could say RIP to the notion of taking from people that worked hard for what they've earned. It would be fantastic to stop the demonization of households earning more than $250,000 a year. It would be really keeping it real to say if you dropped out of high school, like smoking weed, and have to get home in time for Dancing with the Stars then you have no right to demand the earnings of those that didn't and don't do those things. I really wish we could bury this mindset that threatens to create a nation of only welfare recipients where workers, innovators and job creators are banished.
I have a feeling, however, that the ghost of Occupy will appear before us for a long time to come.
Avaunt! And quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrow-less, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with!
I hope Zuccotti Park is open to the public again. My first job on Wall Street paid $13,000 a year before taxes and I used to eat lunch (typically a couple of hotdogs) and listen to street performers including a comedian that was one of the best ever. I used to watch big cars drive by and guys in expensive suits walk by and finish my food fast to get back to a job I hated, but an opportunity I loved. I hope that isn't taking away from young people working on Wall Street that come from humble beginnings and want to enhance their lives.
Equities are under pressure once again this morning, and it's still all about Europe. Then the CPI came and added more pressure to equity futures. Without a lot of corporate news, the market looks vulnerable out of the gate. I'm not surprised by this as I also think technical factors are at work as well. It's clear we should not force the issue this morning.