Over a month ago groups of people got together to protest Wall Street. The OWS protestors understand that something is wrong. Unfortunately, in their anger they took their message to the wrong people. And as the government started cracking down on their protests, they still seemed to miss the point of where their grievances should be directed, still looking to the very people who were using force against them to solve the problems that they created. But even worse, the protesters fail to comprehend that they are no different than the people they are angry at.
An odd trend has been occurring the past few decades and as a result the current generation has forgotten what separates government for any other grouping of people. The fact that government is the only entity that legally force someone to its will. That is what a law is, the legal authorization of force against a person. Instead, people seem to think that government is a benevolent collection of society’s will, a suggestion of how we should all live, as it were. And even when this is obviously presented to the people who are calling for government to enact their solutions in the most demonstrable displays, they still seem to oblivious to that fact.
The OWS crowd are doing exactly what the businesses they are protesting have done, attempted to gain control of the government to make laws that others should be forced to live under. To them, it isn’t that the government has obtained the power that it has over the people of the United States, their issue is that the wrong people are in charge. Our forefathers knew better, they understood that the only way to prevent the abuses of government was to limit it to only what was necessary of it, not a way to solve every problem that presented itself. That understanding has unfortunately been lost on the people of today so much that in the face of that power being used against them, they are bewildered.
Worse, they have directed their ire at the notion of free market capitalism as the best way to ensure freedom in a society. By allowing the people to be the ones to make the decision on how they live, what they buy, where they decide to spend the results of their hard labor we have a society that has produced the greatest freedoms in the history of society. At least, until recently.
Today, however, in an effort to solve problems that government can’t solve (being hungry, being poor, having good health, having a good education, taking care of our fellow man, being free from fear, even death) many have been willing to give up our freedoms to try to eliminate the things they should be looking at themselves to correct in their own lives.
Business isn’t the problem. Even the most obnoxious company in the world cannot make a single person do anything. At least, not without government. A great example is the recent revelation of mass abuse of chickens at Sparboe Farms. When it was discovered what was happening, businesses cut ties with the distributor because they knew that their customers would not want them to continue providing eggs from them. McDonalds, Target, SuperValu and Wal-Mart all dropped the egg distributor immediately. Sparboe is now paying the price for allowing this to occur at some of their farms and other distributors will take notice. This is how to change a company, the laws many thought were in place to prevent such a thing from happening weren’t there, and simply because a law is in place doesn’t ensure that such a thing won’t happen.
Right now banks are seen as ‘the enemy’ because they received bailouts from Washington. Only, that’s not really what the issue is for many OWS protestors. It isn’t that they got bailouts, its that they want bailouts too. This is evident since when the bailouts were first suggested in 2008, many Libertarians and some Republicans said no, but the business backed Democrats and Republicans forged ahead with it anyway. Now those same OWS protestors are supporting the very politicians that called for the bailouts in the first place. They aren’t upset with the power that the government has to take money from the hard working people of the country and give it to others who didn’t earn those funds, they are only upset with who they went to.
The reality is that if our economy is going to be great again, it has to be free to be so. Business is going to try to make a profit, so they are going to continue to make things and sell things and as a result provide people jobs. When we make it easier to do so, not harder, the economy will respond. Until then, we are going to see modest increases as we have seen for years under the control of this increasingly authoritarian government we have allowed to spring up in the place of what our founding fathers intended. Indeed, over the past several administrations we have seen more regulations attempting to control every aspect of business that Canada has moved ahead of the US as a more free market, and as a result have withstood the economic issues much better than we have.
And the OWS protestors are protesting against the very people who are trying to do make their lives better because they see them as the enemy. Not in providing a better existence for everyone, but because business has done a better job of getting control of the massive power that the government has than they have. Again, it’s not that the power exists, only who wields it that they have a problem with.
Crony Capitalism is a bad thing. But the answer is not to end capitalism, it is not to tighten even more control of capitalism, the answer is to stop trying to direct the economy in a way that government can never be effective at and allowing the market to do what it does, provide freedom and prosperity to as many people as possible. Yes, there are many businesses that use government as a tool to ensure their success instead of the market, and this practice should be stopped. But looking at the people who are at fault, the ones with the power, is where we should be looking. Not with the minority of businesses that can only exist and operate at a profit with the assistance of government.
The only good thing that I can see coming out of the terrible crackdown on the protestors by the government is that they might finally have their eyes opened to where the real problem lies. Unfortunately, too many people are being led by the populism of those with desires to control their fellow man, not really help them. At it is this that will again deter them from finally understanding the real point they should be seeing.