OK, I’ll say it: the Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Boise, Occupy Moscow (or whatever city or street you care to name) is all about entrenching socialism and socialist concepts into the American mainstream — and the policies the protestors seek are ones that have hurt them the most.
The protestors involved in demonstrations across the country are upset because they believe our capitalist economic system doesn’t work for them. They see a system in which some people are rich and some are still poor. They claim rich people are greedy because they have failed to volunteer their wealth to those who aren’t wealthy, and because the government hasn’t forced the wealthy to surrender their money in sufficient enough quantities.
But capitalism is a good thing, a healthy thing — the one tool that has the potential to help people of meager means. In 1979, talk show host Phil Donahue asked free market economist Milton Friedman, “When you see around the globe the mal-distribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in undeveloped countries…when you see the greed and the concentration of power, did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed is a good idea to run on?”
Friedman’s flawless, almost melodious and unflinching response in defense of freedom rings true today. Answered Friedman, “What is greed? Of course none of us are greedy; it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. …In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about…they have had capitalism and largely free trade. …So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear: that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.”
Hard as it may be for the Occupy Wall Street people to imagine, people like me are fighting for people like them. It’s easy for politicians to respond to the shrill calls from the masses who want a higher minimum wage. But of course higher minimum wage only results in higher prices and low-wage earners being priced out of jobs. The last minimum wage increase, a few short years ago, did nothing to help the lowest wage earners.
It’s easy for politicians to respond to the demand for new programs, but of course the poorest of the poor are injured by such programs as taxes are raised to pay for the new entitlements. Burdened by high taxes, companies can’t offer the high wages employees seek. Burdened by regulations, the price of health benefits go up, and the protestors who demand lower cost health care and insurance find that such benefits elude them.
Burdened by new, unpredictable and insufferable demands by governments of all kinds, businesses are afraid to invest in new employees, offer new incentives to existing ones or make large capital investments, further frustrating protestors who demand more government intervention to satiate their lofty demands.
The best thing politicians can do is ignore the Wall Street protestors. Or do the opposite of what they ask. Embrace the free market. Remove the shackles of big regulation. End the stream of senseless mandates and high taxes. The elected officials will get no thanks from the protestors for doing it, but it’s for their own good.