Bootleggers and Baptists

The parable of Bootleggers and Baptists comes from a time in the old South where Baptists sought to restrict the sale of liquor on Sundays for religious purposes, while Bootleggers sought the same but for purposes of increasing sales rather than religious considerations. So long as both groups agreed that the legislation was “good”, sale of liquor was forbidden on Sundays. Increased profits for Bootleggers, good Christianity for the Baptists.

The protesters of Occupy Wall Street should heed this parable and be wary of interest groups. Most people are not in the business of giving something for nothing, so donors may not be as philanthropic as they seem–profit motives often lurk in the background. That said, here are some people pouring money into OWS:

the group’s steering committee… includes Dal Lamagna, founder of the company Tweezerman, entertainment-industry executive Richard Foos and Judy Wicks, founder of the White Dog Café in Philadelphia, along with Messrs. Cohen, Greenfield[of Ben and Jerry’s]and Goldberg[former manager of Nirvana].

( For more see article, and thanks to eimilealoisia for the tip)

OWS may simply be viewed as a good avenue to advertise to young people. To retain any sort of legitimacy, the movement must not allow itself to be shaped (if only in the eyes of the media) by private interest groups. Accepting large donations from private groups is a sure-fire path toward losing the original message of the movement and becoming just another American gimmick.



3 responses to “Bootleggers and Baptists

  1. coffeeshoprhino

    Does OWS publish the donors and the amount they donate? It would seem a real problem of transparency if they didn’t…

  2. The Occupy movement still needs funds, though, to be able to organize and sponsor events. If they stayed transparent would it be ethically wrong to accept money if it is all going towards propelling the movement?

  3. Cant find anything on that gives any donor information, and I agree that this is a problem of transparency.

    Luckily we have the media and they tend to let us know who’s throwing around money where (see article above). Yes, the protest may need funds, but by accepting large donations from private interest groups OWS protesters succeed any legitimate claim to being an “organic” protest movement. Other interests are at play now. OWS is no less susceptible to monetary influence than Wall Street, Capitol Hill, or the big bad corporations.

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