Their anger is directed away from the unsustainable welfare state.
Thousands of Greeks have been violently protesting that the freebies they had taken for granted may have to be reduced, even completely cut. Few of them seemed to have a clue about how one cannot get blood out of a turnip. After decades of living off the work and incomes of other people and future generations – via borrowed funds – their gravy train is very likely to reach its termination point.
In much of Europe the attitudes of these Greek protesters is routine. Europeans have welfare states in spades, and few have ever warned them about the hazards of living in such systems. These past few years may finally have produced such a warning but only by creating hardship for those who have become completely dependent on the system.
Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain are just the more drastic examples, but the entire continent is experiencing the consequences of decades of profligacy. Instead of testing a truly revolutionary alternative to socialism – which, of course, crashed with the demise of the old USSR and its colonies – namely a truly consistent free-market, capitalist economic order (with its proper constitutional framework intact) – what most Western European politicians chose to do is to turn toward "socialism with a human face," of the democratic kind (i.e., without outright or explicit police-state measures).
This has been a strategy largely adopted in America as well. Promoters of more and more entitlement programs and top-down federal and state government economic regulations have been clamoring for America to become a so-called compassionate system.
These and similar ways were meant to accommodate the moral and political sentiments of the former Soviet system of reckless forced wealth redistribution and egalitarianism. The only difference is that, while the Soviets realized that their planned economy requires a police state and met their demise by applying its policies, the Western welfare states try to square the circle by preaching compassion and kindness while enacting laws and regulations that, in fact, require a firm hand by the government.
So, as it has become clear that no system can survive with the reckless economic policies of the welfare state, what is left? We see the answer on the streets of New York and many other cities with the attacks on "Wall Street." Just as Germans in the 1930s turned upon Jews, whom they irrationally held responsible for their economic woes, the Occupy protesters are scapegoating a segment of the American population that not only does not deserve their scorn but may actually be the last hope of the American and even world economies.
What these people are calling for is just a bit short of stringing up or liquidating the very people who are mostly hard at work trying to earn a living for themselves and their clients. (No doubt some on Wall Street are cads but if that warrants picking on them en mass, then the protesters ought to descend upon Washington, D.C.)
Yet given the mainly mindless commentaries on the Greek, Portuguese and Italian economic situations, given how so very few mainstream observers pick the correct culprit – namely, the welfare state and its coercive wealth redistribution and punishment of productivity – it isn't surprising that young Americans tend to turn on those who are managing to make it in this economy. They feel, having been so urged to feel, that they are owed an education and a living.
Why are so many surprised with this? Almost all of the teachers, from elementary to graduate schools, have preached the welfare statist mantra that we all have a right to be taken care of. So what is one to expect?