A Wasted Protest

The “Occupy <insert city name here>” protestors are certainly an eclectic bunch. From what I can gather they blame “the wealthy” and “corporate greed” (whatever that means) for a myriad of the problems this country faces, not the least of which is that they don’t have a job. Give me a break. If they have time to travel across the country and camp out in a park for weeks on end, then they have time to find a job. The protestors have one slender thread of a justifiable grievance: the “too big to fail” crony capitalist policies of our political system. The problem is that they should be protesting the government that bailed out big businesses (the financial and auto sectors). Those businesses made risky investments because they knew Uncle Sam would back them up if things went south. Ask yourself, if you could go into a casino and gamble as much as you wanted knowing that any losses would be repaid to you, would you really restrain yourself from not simply gambling as much and as fast as you could?

This protest is a wasted opportunity to raise national awareness of what really ails this country: big government. The protestors are simply too ignorant of basic economics (“let’s just get rid of all money” said one) and the nature of free-market capitalism (as distinguished from crony-capitalism) to advance any kind of legitimate, useful agenda. For example, some constructive demands would be:

1) end the Fed and the ability of the government to print money: this brings an end to the “business cycle” which is an artificial result of government money manipulation

2) end all government subsidies: this would lower taxes by eliminating corporate welfare

3) repeal all government regulation of business: this would put all the lobbyists out of work and would then create a boom in new businesses and new jobs (as regulations are the tool that big business uses to raise the barrier to entry by new competitors)

4) repeal all business taxes: a lack of income tax would create a huge increase in rate of return on invested capital thereby attracting thousands of US and foreign companies to the US which would in turn create millions of new jobs.

But you won’t hear any of the protestors calling for such reforms. Their solution to “income inequality” is not to raise those on the bottom up (by promoting an environment conducive to job creation) but rather to cut those at the top down (by promoting punitive taxation under the mantra of redistribution following a misguided appeal to “fairness.”) Income inequality is a natural consequence of being human. It is the same as inequality in a foot race. In fact the statistical distribution in both a race and income is identical: a handful are wealthier or faster than everyone else, a large portion are average and a handful are very slow or poor. Government mandated redistribution of wealth is no different than forcing the fast runners to carry sandbags on their back, so as to remove their “unfair” advantage over slower runners. Capitalism is like the foot race; those that come in first do not gain their speed by sapping the speed of the slower runners.

To insist that income must be equal for all or have a very narrow distribution is to tilt at the windmill of biology: we all have equal natural rights but we are not created with equal abilities. Those with skills in high demand or low supply (doctors, lawyers, actors, sports stars, etc) will always earn much more than those with skills in low demand or high supply. That’s life, get used to it. The solution the protestors should be seeking is to improve their skill set rather than promoting government-sanctioned solutions that use threat of violence (taxation) in order to “right” their perception of a “wrong.”