I keep reading about the antics of these “Occupiers” of Wall Street in an effort to figure out what it is they want. The best I can come up with in a nutshell is: something for nothing. Forgiveness of loans, redistribution of wealth, better jobs, jobs in “my chosen field.” These “demands” seem akin to what the Greeks are rioting about. The Greeks seem to be saying that, notwithstanding that their country is broke because of the policies of the country providing government supported income, health care, housing etc., they are unwilling for the government to cue back on these programs upon which the Greek population (or some of them) have become dependent – for everything. I wonder why the Occupiers don’t see that the policies of Greece and, perhaps, some of the other European countries, are what like what they seek and that they have failed, proving that more government largess is not an answer.
The Occupiers say they represent 99% of the population that makes less than the 1% who for whom Wall Street is a metaphor. I wonder how many of the Occupiers are in the 1% between 98% and 99% or in the 9% between 90% and 99% of wage earners. I doubt that the upper ten percent of wage earners are standing around in a park somewhere complaining that they don’t have a job in their chosen field.
Yesterday the Occupiers shut down the second largest port in the country. Not surprisingly, it took place in Oakland, California. And, to what end? As a surprise to no one, some of the protesters got out of control, started some fires and got arrested. The “organizers” or leaders blamed “anarchists”. (Does the Haymarket Riots come to mind?) How can this anarchy help their cause, whatever it is? And, you know what? I bet that none of the top 10% of wage earners were among the Oakland marchers or are spending any time in a park carrying a sign that says “give me.”
Is our government in collaboration with big business? Of course. It always has been. Certainly it has been so in my lifetime. President Obama willingly accepts money form the Wall Street tycoons for his election and re-election campaigns as do the Republican candidates seeking the presidential nomination of that party. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were 1%-ers of their day. Eisenhower named Charles Wilson, the head of General Motors, the major defense contractor of the time, as his Defense Secretary and Wilson was (mis)quoted as saying “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”
Does the fact that government and business have been in bed together in the past mean we shouldn’t seek change? Of course not. But one can make a pretty decent argument that what drives capitalism is good for the country and that protesting against another person’s success while asking for something for nothing isn’t likely to provide change or even useful guide lines for change.
There is no free beer.