October 22, 2011

99%ers: Right Problem, Wrong Solution

Founded in outrage over the special treatment that banks get from government, Occupy Delaware is now demanding its own special treatment from government:

A member of Occupy Delaware, Susan Collins, is petitioning Wilmington Council to suspend city fees for when and whatever park the group decides to hold its rally in. ... "Therefore, we respectfully request that the Wilmington City Council, in solidarity with the 99 percenters pass an emergency ordinance suspending all park permitting and fees in support of Occupy Delaware. Furthermore, that the City of Wilmington facilitate the needs and offer its full cooperation throughout the 'occupation.'"

Now Collins certainly has a point that City regulations for events can be expensive. (See the linked article for some details.) But why should Occupy Delaware get any special treatment? Because they claim to be operating on behalf of the "little people"? So do any number of organizations that are much more charitable in nature than the overwhelmingly political Occupy Delaware.

In fact, those actual charities are much more deserving of the waiving of those fees given the behavior of other "Occupy" events. Real charities don't defecate on police cars, to pick just the most famous example of Occupiers having in abominable fashions. A police presence would seem especially needed given that 31% of the Occupy New York protesters "would support violence to advance their agenda". (Meanwhile, the media has been watching the Tea Party like a hawk waiting for its "inevitable" violence to begin after two years of existence. Heck, they haven't even crapped on police cars or raped anybody so the Occupiers are well ahead of them in a much shorter time on the violence front.)

As Hube pointed out before, the protesters complain that government favors the rich too much and therefore must be given more power. There's a obvious point of logic missing. After all, if the government already favors the rich with the power it does have, who do they think it will shower more benefits on when it's given more power? No matter the limitations and restrictions placed on them, much like stinkbugs finding their way into my house, the rich will find their way into government to influence it in their direction. Instead, the proper course of action is to limit government's ability to play favorites.

Instead, The 99 Percent Declaration demands more favoritism. (And that document should dispel the notion of the Occupy Movement as anything other than a left-wing radical movement that most Americans would reject, rather than being representative of 99 percent of them. The economic illiteracy, self-contradiction and shallow thinking in that document is a long blog post in and of itself.) Just to pick one item, what the Occupy movement is missing is that no one forced anyone to go tens of thousands of dollars into debt in order to get a college diploma. I know quite a few people who looked at what they wanted to do with their lives and recognized that a college degree would simply put them in debt for no comparative advantage. Similarly, if you go $80,000 in debt to get a degree in art history you really don't have too much room to complain if you have trouble finding a well-paying job. (After all, even if you do find a job in your chosen field, it's not likely to be a well-paying one.) The "evil" banks who made the loans didn't force the loans on the people. It's not fair to punish the banks by taking the money they're owed away from them.

And let's say we do forcibly break this contract of loan repayment. What would happen? The banks would lose a stream of future revenue, reducing profits or even pushing the banks into the red. Since the banks would be losing money, people would have to be laid off. The banks would yet again be blamed for greed, even though laying off a few people is preferable to a bank closing and thereby laying off the entire staff. Thus, innocent people would suffer because of this loan forgiveness and banks would be scapegoated for the lack of responsibility showed by those demanding their freely accumulated debts be forgiven.

And that's what much of the Occupy Movement is about: people avoiding responsibility for their actions. They're asking for a end to favoritism toward the rich and powerful, while demanding favoritism towards them; simply trading one sort of favoritism for another. Now, it's entirely legitimate to take a stand in favor of the poor in governmental policies and decisions when rights are in conflict or justice demands it. (In Catholic Social Teaching, this is known as the "preferential option for the poor". See section 11 in this document.) When the rights of the rich and the poor are in conflict, of course the government should side with the poor since they're the ones who can least afford to handle things turning against them. But is it really just to demand that loans to college students be forgiven when it will cause the poor/middle class person working at a bank that loses that revenue to be fired as discussed above? Is it really just to forgive someone (usually middle or upper class) a loan he freely entered into because he is having trouble paying for it?

Additionally, as a friend is fond of pointing out, virtually all Americans are part of the 1% when looking on a global scale. The Occupiers should look at history to find out why that's true. Here's a partial list to start them off: freedom, innovation, rule of law, respect for contracts, limited government. All of those would be at least partially overturned if the Occupiers get their way. Rather than further abandoning those principles, we should reassert them.

The Occupy movement has many legitimate points it raises (a blog post I hope to get to at some point, although some were raised above), their objectives and means leave a heck of a lot to be desired. Talking to some of my fellow conservative friends, we're actually very sympathetic to their complaints, but find their proposed solutions impossible to support. As is so often true, the Occupiers need to calm down, speak less from rage and anger and look beyond the immediate effects of their demands to see that harm, not just the benefits, that would result. Because the harm would outweigh the benefits and make our situation even worse.


Posted by PaulSmithJr at October 22, 2011 03:13 PM | TrackBack

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Amen! FINALLY a voice of reason!

Posted by: Dominique at October 22, 2011 10:01 PM