The Occupy Wall Street movement consists of demonstrations in many cities protesting some hazy dissatisfaction with the way things are. The movement claims participants are “The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.” Based on news videos of the protesters, they seem to be the 1% of mostly incoherent and inarticulate young people who do not know what is going on.
I can sympathize with part of the demonstrators’ dissatisfaction, but they are demonstrating against the wrong perceived perpetrators. They should be occupying Washington, D.C. and the halls of Congress.
The blame for the current financial crisis lies squarely with Congress, with its practice of crony capitalism and with its machinations for “social justice” .
The proximal cause of our financial state lies squarely with Congress who encouraged, even mandated, that banks lend money to unqualified real estate buyers in the name of social justice. The banks probably realized the folly, so they repackaged the mortgages in a variety of derivatives and sold them far and wide. When, not surprisingly, it turned out that the unqualified borrowers could not repay the loans, the whole thing collapsed.
And what is social justice? “Social justice is the complete economic equality of all members of society. While this may sound like a lofty objective, what it really means is that wealth should be collected by the government and evenly distributed to everyone. In short, social justice is communism. It is rooted in the Marxist idea that the money people make and the property they own do not rightfully belong to the people who make the money and own the property.” – Jayme Sellards in the American Thinker.
The occupiers rage against big corporations, and they are not entirely wrong, just unfocused. Certain corporations, large and small, court special privilege from Congress in the form of subsidies, tariffs, and bailouts. Again it is the fault of Congress for succumbing to these pleadings. This is crony capitalism not the free market. The free market provides equal opportunity but does not guarantee equal outcomes.
“Free market capitalism is unforgiving. Producers please customers, in a cost-minimizing fashion, and make a profit, or they face losses or go bankrupt.” – Walter Williams
“I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need to be employed in dissuading them from it.” – Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.” –Benjamin Franklin
So what should be done? The protesters and we should demand of our senators and congressmen that the federal government get back to strictly Constitutionally authorized management rather than trying to be social engineers, energy dictators, automobile manufacturers, and micro-managers of everything. The feds should eliminate all subsidies to all businesses and let the market determine who fails and who succeeds. For every dollar the federal government spends, that is a dollar denied to private businesses and individuals. It is a dollar of lost opportunity in the free market. Congress should repeal unnecessary restrictive regulations that hamper or deny our ability to produce the things we want and need. Let the great engine of the free market work.