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Monday, October 31, 2011

Lessons from Occupy Wall Street


The Occupy Wall Street movement has taken a general and ill-defined position against “corporate greed” as opposed to criticizing specific corporations for greedy behavior. This is in contrast to the Tea Party movement which has been specifically critical of those corporations that have been bailed out by the taxpayers and those corporate big-wigs, such asFranklin Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae, who received a taxpayer funded severance package worth around $80 million dollars before going on to advise the Obama campaign on economic matters in 2008.

Most Americans understand that most corporations, and most corporate heads like the the late Steve Jobs, create and market products and services that make them very rich and that, as such, they earn their wealth. Corporations function successfully in the private sector and benefit from private investment on Wall Street. They create wealth at all levels and they have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process. Unlike Solyndra, which was guaranteed by the taxpayer for over a half a billion dollars, and unlike Fannie and Freddie, whose bailout cost the economy over a trillion dollars, private corporations, sometimes working with government, take their own risks. Most Americans admire private corporations and celebrate their success because most Americans understand that the success of the corporation results in benefits to society in general.

The economic failure is not due to the success of private businessmen and corporations, quite the contrary, but rather the economic failure is due to anti-business regulation, free trade policies, and government agencies posing as private corporations and then needing a bailout such as Fannie and Freddie.

One revelation that has come out of the Occupy Wall Street episode is the fact that the top 1% is already paying a disproportionate share of taxes while approximately 42% of wage-earners pay no Federal tax. The number of subsidized taxpayers will apparently increase exponentially, according to a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation, which claims that an additional 8 million Americans will have no tax liability thanks to ObamaCare subsidies. The Occupy Wall Street movement, by advocating tax increases levied on the successful working segment of society, seems to want to expand the welfare state as opposed to an advocacy of a society that is more prone to creating jobs and self-sufficiency.

Rather than suggesting legitimate business reforms, such as ending the bailouts, ending the corporate welfare to corporations likeSolyndra, and curtailing free trade which hurts American industry and labor,Occupy Wall Street critique of business is more fundamental. At their core,they are in favor of Socialism, what they call “direct democracy” in which successfulpeople and companies are harnessed to serve those who have failed to create success.Their philosophy, as such, is based on their own envy and greed.

The weather is getting colder and the Occupy Wall Street encampments appear to be getting restless in some cities. The media and the public have gotten the message and most have moved on to other pursuits such asmaking a living and getting on with life. Thus, Occupy Wall Street seems to beresorting to more extreme histrionics to get attention such as provoking the policeand using more of our taxpayer resources. In the 1960’s, the street thugs harassing the police were praised by the liberal media, particularly suchliberal media titans as Walter Cronkite, as, back then, there were only threeTV stations providing the bulk of news. Today, the media is much more diverse,especially with the addition of Cable and the internet. Thus Occupy Wall Streetis not likely to be able to pull off the same trick as their radical predecessors.There is just too much private ownership of the means of communication. 

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