Occupy Wall Street protests are misguided

Capitalism is morally good. It also happens to work remarkably well, raising millions around the world out of poverty and providing the marketplace with a myriad of life-enhancing material goods. This social system of economic and political freedom is the only one that fully recognizes, respects and protects individual rights. It is a system that we do not have in this country and have never had.

We have had only greater or lesser degrees of economic freedom. We were the closest to capitalism during the inventive period of the late 19th century, when most of the great innovations and conveniences we live with today were invented (phones, cameras, lighting, cars, appliances, etc.). Today, entrepreneurs, like tech visionary Steve Jobs, struggle to provide society with innovations that give individuals more power over their lives.

Our current crisis is the result of government intervention in the marketplace through regulation, taxation, welfare, economic incentives, bailouts, central banking, fiat currency and rank cronyism. We live in a mixed economy. It is a mix of some capitalism and some socialism; some freedom and some political control. Half good and half bad equates to bad. And what we have today is bad.

Businessmen, lobbyists and special-interest groups are buying politicians because politicians are for sale. When you first hang up a shingle, buyers soon appear and compete for favors, handouts and bailouts, all at the expense of the rest of society.

The “Occupy Wall Street” protests are misguided by focusing on only one half of the equation. You cannot cure a disease with a misdiagnosis. Those angry protesters in New York and Asheville have misdiagnosed the problems they accurately perceive and would be better served by properly identifying the true source of their grievances: Government.

— Tim Peck
Asheville

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55 thoughts on “Occupy Wall Street protests are misguided

  1. Dionysis

    At the root of these “misguided” protests is the subversion of our representative democracy via the pernicious influence of corporations, who buy politicians like Halloween candy, and who then work for their employers (not the naive ‘citizens’ who actually think they’ll be represented by these political prostitutes). Instead of reining in this corruption, the letter-writer would have you believe that the solution is to jettison any and all regulations, worker and environmental protections, etc. and have the sole role of government is to protect the ability to plunder for profit.

    Why it is the the loony ravings of some self-centered Russian hack writer should be adopted as a guiding philosophy of government is bizarre.

    • travelah

      Why would you not also add the pernicious influence of big unions, who buy politicians like Halloween candy, and who then work for their employers (not the naive ‘citizens’ who actually think they’ll be represented by these political prostitutes).

  2. D. Dial

    I say it’s the special interest, corporations, & financiers that are all in cahoots with gubmint cronies, that is the problem.

  3. Dionysis

    “Why would you not also add the pernicious influence of big unions…”

    Because that’s a red herring. It may have had some validity decades ago, but union membership is at an all-time low and the influence of unions has diminished greatly vis-a-vis corporations. And that was before the recently orchestrated campaign against unions brought by Republican governors.

    The question is tantamount to asking an arms dealer with a warehouse full of weapons why he doesn’t include his slingshot in the inventory.

  4. infinitybbc

    the writer is 100% correct.

    what many misguided protestors forget, along with many Americans, is that gov’t created corporations. corporations have no power whatsoever on their own

  5. Dionysis

    There are multiple reasons behind individual’s participation in the ‘Occupy’ movement, only loosely connected by a reaction against both corporations and a complicit government. The idea that this represents a ‘unions are good for people’ mantra does not seem to be echoed in any coverage of any of these events in different locations. As for the claim that “collectives are at enmity with LIBERTY…” it would depend upon how one defines the word ‘liberty’. It’s worth noting that humans have always gravitated toward some form of collectivism, from the basic need of survival in primitive times to, say, the annual Bilderberger’s secret meetings.

    “It has been called “the master problem” of social life: What is the connection
    between the individual and the collective, including groups,
    organizations, communities, and society itself? Healthy adult human
    beings can survive apart from other members of the species, yet across
    individuals, societies, and eras, humans consistently seek inclusion in
    the collective, where they must balance their personal needs and desires
    against the demands and requirements of their groups. Some never sink
    too deeply into the larger collective, for they remain individualists who
    are so self-reliant that they refuse to rely on others or concern themselves
    with others’ outcomes. Other people, in contrast, put the collective’s
    interests before their own personal needs, sacrificing personal
    gain for what is often called “the greater good.”

    https://facultystaff.richmond.edu/~dforsyth/pubs/Forsyth&Hoyt2011;.pdf

  6. Lisa

    None of the things that OWS finds objectionable would be possible without the participation of our corrupt, philosophically-bankrupt government.

  7. Dionysis

    “It is not any more of a red herring than blaming corporations for the current morass of government. In fact, big unions are the biggest influence peddlers as far as spreading money around.”

    Obviously you are free to have whatever opinion you wish, regardless of whether it makes any practical sense or not. Aside from the fact that union membership is at an all-time historical is the fact that the latest Gallup poll shows a larger segment of the population view unions negatively than those who view it positively. Unions dues are down, unions are either on the run or have been severly diminished in influence and continue to see that trend.

    In recent years, unions that formerly were powerhouses have capitulated to managment repeatedly in making economic concession, benefit concessions and on and on, yet there is no reciprocal concessions given up by corporations (if you know of any, provide links) to unions. They are running out of support and funding, so who is it that is playing Daddy Warbucks to unions? George Soros?

    I stand by my post; you’ve offered nothing that can factually impeach it.

  8. john5

    It comes down to self-responsibility, something the OWS people and Obama seem to have very little regard for, or experience with. Blamers and whiners all. One blames risk-takers, producers, and Capitalism. The other blames the tsunami, Arab Spring, earthquakes, Bush, Tea Party, Republicans…. News flash: Washington makes the laws. Obama and a Democratically controlled Senate and House passed and distributed the stimulus bailouts (yes I know, Bush did TARP.) Why not protest the ones who GAVE the bailouts? That’s what the Tea Party did. OWS is 2 yrs late to the party and not nearly as well-behaved as Tea Partiers were and are.

  9. john5

    It comes down to self-responsibility, something the OWS people and Obama seem to have very little regard for, or experience with. Blamers and whiners all. One blames risk-takers, producers, and Capitalism. The other blames the tsunami, Arab Spring, earthquakes, Bush, Tea Party, Republicans…. News flash: Washington makes the laws. Obama and a Democratically controlled Senate and House passed and distributed the stimulus bailouts (yes I know, Bush did TARP.) Why not protest the ones who GAVE the bailouts? That’s what the Tea Party did. OWS is 2 yrs late to the party and not nearly as well-behaved as Tea Partiers were and are.

    • bill smith

      Indeed. I wish all protests could be as well corralled and behaved as the FreedomWorks/FOX News Tea Party. Why, they even all had their signs made for them! None of this OWS amateur hand made sign crap!

  10. john5

    Further, if Obama had adopted either the Fair Tax or something akin to Cain’s 909 plan at the beginning, we would now have a robust economy and Obama who be looking at a successful landslide re-election in 2012.

    • bill smith

      Yeah, because raising taxes on the poorest, while lowering taxes on the most wealthy is a GREAT way to get the economy moving! I’m sure some economists agree… somewhere…any day now i’ll find one…

  11. Jake

    Objectivist claptrap. Mr. Peck’s capitalist utopia can’t and won’t exist, much like Mr. Marx’s never came to exist either.

    When there is an unobtainable optimum condition, it is senseless to continue to push toward that condition. Which, in English, means that compromise is always necessary to reach stability. Unfettered capitalism isn’t possible, so some degree of mixture between government and whatever economic system will have to exist.

    • bill smith

      Interesting. But I dont see anything in that link that disproves my statement. Can you clarify for me?

  12. Christopher C NC

    Capitalism is morally good.

    Capitalism is an economic system of private ownership. It is merely a way of doing things. It does not and cannot posses any moral qualities good or bad. Capitalism is only as moral as the human actors using the system. I’ll say that again. Capitalism is only as moral as the human actors using the system.

    This is one of the Big Lies that has been fed to us over the last twenty five years, that anything capitalism does is good and moral. Capitalism is the new false god attributed with magical and miraculous powers if only….in some people’s views.

    You worship a false god at your own peril.

  13. Barry Summers

    We don’t live in a capitalist system. It’s been gradual, but what we have here is socialism for the rich, and deregulation of the sort recommended by Randian fantasists like TimPeck(1) will only cement it in place.

    Consider: when he resigned earlier this year, Neil Barofsky, Bush’s pick to manage the TARP program said this:

    “The biggest banks are 20 percent larger than they were before the crisis and control a larger part of our economy than ever. They reasonably assume that the government will rescue them again, if necessary. Indeed, credit rating agencies incorporate future government bailouts into their assessments of the largest banks, exaggerating market distortions that provide them with an unfair advantage over smaller institutions, which continue to struggle.”

    Get it? Wall Street has figured out that it doesn’t matter how bad their choices, how risky their speculation, how distorted the market, they will never lose. So why behave responsibly? Why take the government handout & use it for loans to businesses? Better to use that money for acquisitions, because it doesn’t matter how f***ed up your business practices – the only thing that matters is the political calculation of “Are we too big to fail”?

    Further deregulation will worsen this. The only answer is a swift and brutal re-introduction of bank regulation, breaking up the biggest banks, anti-trust enforcement, fees on trading, and raising capital gains. This will force the banks and trading companies (because they should never have been allowed to merge) to behave like responsible corporate citizens, instead of employees at the taxpayer-funded casino.

  14. Dionysis

    “We have seen 3 yrs of Obamanomics and that has worked GREAT hasn’t it?”

    If only we could have enjoyed another 4 or 8 years of the Bush ‘trickle-down’ train wreck. Sigh, those were to good ole days alright.

    So the answer is to resurrect the so-called ‘fair tax’ to replace all corporate taxes, all income taxes, all payroll taxes etc. And, according to the pitch, this is a ‘non-partisan’ effort. Okay, the Fair Tax Act of 2011 has 60 sponsors, 58 of whom are Republicans and two DINOS. Yep, that’s broad sponsorship.

    CNN: “On Its Own, A National Sales Tax Would Be Extremely Regressive.”

    Businessweek: “The Fair Tax Would Weigh Heavier On Lower-Income Households.”

    FactCheck.org: Fair Tax Would ‘Make The Tax Code Less Fair.’

    Under Fair Tax, Workers Currently Paying Less Than 23 Percent Of Income In Taxes Are Worse Off.

    CNN: Under Fair Tax Scenarios, “Burden Of Taxes In Any Given Year Likely Shifts To Lower Earners.”

    FactCheck.org: Despite Rebate, Tax Burden On Everyone Earning $15,000 – $200,000 Would Increase

    Bartlett: Fair Tax Rebate Program “Would Constitute A National Welfare Program With A Flat Payment For Every American Regardless Of Need” — And That’s “Absurd.”

    Abolishing IRS Would Eliminate Income Audits, Making Tax Evasion Easy

    CEPR Director: Without Enforcement, Tax Evasion Would Force Continued Tax Increases, Which Would In Turn Exacerbate Evasion.

    http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201104220008

    We need a better way to continue the transfer of wealth from the shrinking middle and working classes to the wealthy and to corporations, so keep that thinking cap on! The replacement of an egalitarian representative democracy with a oligarchy requires perseverance and ingenuity. And a corrupt political system (already in place).

  15. bill smith

    It’s funny to me how Republican Neo-Cons all like to play Libertarian when they don’t control the WH or Congress.

  16. Barry Summers

    We have seen 3 yrs of Obamanomics and that has worked GREAT hasn’t it?

    We’ve seen Obama cave on his campaign promises in order to cowtow to the Republicans at almost every turn – dropping single payer, continuing the Bush tax cuts for billionaires, scaling down stimulus spending until it’s mostly just more tax cuts, failing to rein in Wall Street, pushing job-exporting free-trade pacts, etc. etc. It’s no surprise – his economic team are many of the same geniuses that got us into this mess (Geitner, Summers, etc.). And since the GOP took back the House, nothing constructive has happened at all, because they made the calculus that a sputtering economy is better for their 2012 chances. In unguarded moments, many of them have been pretty open that their first priority is to make Obama a one-termer, NOT get America working again.

    “Obamanomics” as you call it has mostly been more of the same from the previous administration, through Obama’s poor political stance towards the opposition. He is a disappointment, but this is the Republican’s Great Recession, not his.

    • bill smith

      Hold on there, Barry. It was the Dems in Congress who held up Health Care and scrapped single payer, not the Republicans. Remember the ‘super majority’?

      Obama has had to deal with obstruction from ‘both’ parties. The DNC represent the same people as the GOP, on the whole.

  17. john5

    @diony–Instead of siting biased opinions from others about what they think the Fair Tax is all about, why don’t you actually read the Fair Tax info for yourself? Did you know that you can do that? Shazam! You will only increase your intellectual accuracy, honesty and integrity by doing so.

    @Barry–GW Bush is three years retired and living quietly in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Who knew? You held Bush responsible when he was POTUS. Now have the cajones to hold Obama responsible when he is POTUS. Obama has made himself a one-termer. No one did this to him. He’s an illustration of the phrase: “Don’t send a child to do a man’s job.” If Obama has simply followed the format of the previous administration, then he is totally incompetent, because every economic indicator has gotten worse on his watch. Given the same tools as Bush, Obama’s done a far worse job, using your reasoning. Obama will be soundly defeated in 2012, even if the Republicans run Donald Duck. Freedom and liberty will prevail, sorry to tell you.

    • Barry Summers

      john, I am holding Obama responsible. Get down off the OneTermOrBust horse for a second & read my comment again. Obama is a disappointment, I said, because he has failed to change course from the trends and policies of the previous administration.

      And I disagree that he has the same tools as Bush did. Bush came into office with a budget surplus and managed to leave with a $1.4 trillion deficit. Obama inherited that deficit trend, a financial sector feverishly seeking to prevent any accountability or reform, AND a bitterly entrenched opposition party determined to block him at every turn. In spite of that, he has actually reduced the deficit somewhat. Relax on the talking points a bit – “every economic indicator” has not gotten worse, they just aren’t improving enough given the time that has passed. We are likely entering a second dip on the Bush-initiated Great Recession, but seriously, things couldn’t have gotten much worse than when Obama took office.

      He is an improvement over Bush, but just not enough. He is not totally incompetent, he is not a boy (yes, I get it), he simply made some poor political compromises under the harsh tutelage of Rahm Emanuel and the money guys he had to get in bed with to get elected.

    • Christopher C NC

      Donald’s (Duck)dominant personality trait is his short temper and, in contrast, his positive look on life. Many Donald shorts start with Donald in a happy mood, without a care in the world, until something comes and spoils his day. His anger is a great cause of suffering in the duck’s life, and he has on multiple occasions got in over his head and lost competitions because of it. There are times when he fights to keep his temper, and he has succeeded a few times, but he always returns to his well known, aggressive self at the end of the day.

      Donald’s aggressive nature is a double-edged sword however, and while it at times is a hindrance and even a handicap for him, it has also helped him in times of need. When faced against a threat of some kind, Donald may get frightened and even intimidated (mostly by Pete), but rather than getting scared, he gets mad and has taken up fights with ghosts, sharks, mountain goats and even the forces of nature. And, more often than not, Donald has come out on top.

      Donald can at times be a bit of a bully and a tease, especially against his nephews and Chip ‘n Dale. As animator Fred Spencer once wrote:

      The Duck gets a big kick out of imposing on other people or annoying them, but he immediately loses his temper when the tables are turned. In other words, he can dish it out, but he can’t take it.[9]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Duck

      Are we sure Donald Duck isn’t already running in the Rebublican field.

    • bill smith

      “Obama will be soundly defeated in 2012, even if the Republicans run Donald Duck.”

      Unfortunately, they don’t have someone as qualified as D. Duck. Bachman is a joke, Perry and Cain are just selling books, and no one likes Romney. The GOP arent even trying to win in 2012. They only plan they have is to blame Obama, and they need obama in the WH to do that.

  18. sharpleycladd

    Tim Peck’s assertion that Great Individualists built the fortunes of the Nineteenth century is factually inaccurate. Those fortunes were, largely, the result of government action: free land transfers from the government to the railroads, municipally-funded steam power projects in Chicago, Milwaukee, and other places, and the Civil War, a little industrial development program underwritten by the federal government. The continued insistence by right-wingers and Tim Peck (who’s not right wing but instead out back in some sort of political garage apartment) that government cannot create wealth is simply a crock of digestive byproduct. The internet, the interstate highways, etc. Government creates and transfers wealth. Government creates winners and losers.

    More wages (as a percentage of total earned income in the US) flow to people involved in finance and financing activities than at any time in our nation’s history. This is because rightists in our government have staunchly opposed anything resembling an industrial policy. France and Germany have worked through government to stimulate manufacturing and exports, and lo and behold, they export more than China.

    We deregulated and kept our government out of the private sector, and wound up with a bunch of people who figure out how to steal pension savings for a living.

    All of which, by the way, is predicted by Adam Smith, that capitalist theorist right wingers never, ever read.

    • bill smith

      People like Peck believe in a fictional US, where robber barons built all the national infrastructure with their bare hands. That’s what happens you you think Ayn Rand is historical fact.

  19. Dionysis

    “@diony—Instead of siting biased opinions from others about what they think the Fair Tax is all about, why don’t you actually read the Fair Tax info for yourself”

    I did, as well as consider comments from both those that support it and those that oppose it. The obvious problems with it were detailed better than I could by others, whose points I agree with. You can describe the fallacy of the so-called ‘Fair Tax’ as “biased”, but the only bias I see is in favor of factual reality.

  20. Dionysis

    And by the way, john5, it takes some cajones to charge others to “read the Fair Tax info…” and for offering thoughtful critiques from those who have looked into it, while you yourself only express criticism of Obama and tout this ridiculously named ‘Fair Tax’ by doing nothing more than writing of your support and then offering a link to some website instead of making the case yourself. Did you read the proposed legislation yourself, or is Herman Cain’s say-so enough? I can provide a link to a pdf of the Act if you need to catch up.

    And let’s make sure others understand what you advocate…because it is nothing more than a continual effort to eviscerate the already precarious middle-class…just more transfer of wealth to the richest.

    “Apparently, everyone misheard Herman Cain when he called his tax plan the “999″ plan – because it’s now become the “909″ plan and he said the elements of the “0″ part – helping the poor – have been there all along. As reported by PoliticsAnonymous.com, Cain’s tax plan in its original form would increase taxes on the poorest individuals by double digits, hike the middle class’ taxes, and reduce the richest Americans’ taxes by about the same amount as the poor’s is increased. But that’s all changed now.

    Said Cain, “If you’re at or below the poverty level, your plan isn’t ‘9-9-9 . . . It’s ‘9-zero-9.’ Say ‘Amen,’ y’all! In other words, if you are at or below the poverty level based upon family size, because there’s a different number for each one, then you don’t pay that middle ‘9′ tax on your income. This is how we help the poor.”

    http://www.examiner.com/liberal-in-chicago/herman-cain-s-999-plan-becomes-the-909-plan-and-now-it-helps-the-poor

  21. john5

    I’m so glad Obama is President! Can you imagine where we’d be if Bush was still President? Why, there’d be rioting in the streets, chaos everywhere. Millions of people would be out of work, the value of property would plummet, stocks would be down, the US credit rating would be devalued for the 1st time in history, the value of the Dollar would plunge as inflation surged, gas prices would triple, our enemies abroad would be emboldened, rattling their sabers at us…. Oh wait, all that’s going on already!

    I actually laugh reading the convoluted rationalizations of Diony, Barry and others. You guys keep drinking that kool-aid! I can’t wait to read your contorted explanations and whining when a patriotic, liberty-loving conservative is elected in 2012 and our economy surges back like a rocket!

    • demguy

      You mean like that “patriotic, liberty-loving” Bush or that “patriotic, liberty-loving” Reagan…oh wait their policies sank the economy like a ship…and under those same policies your “rocket” will crash and explode.

      And I love how the right ringers run back to waiving the flag when they are challenged…John your party doesn’t own the flag, patriotism, or liberty. Lets see who got Osama? That’s right Obama…who got us into 2 boondoggle wars and no ability to pay for them? Your “patriotic” Bush. Who left us in debt…that’s right your patriotic Bush…Who left with a surplus….Clinton…And from whom did he inherit a massive debt when he came into office…that’s right Reagan and Bush

      Before you start throwing stones….why don’t look at the liberty loving folks in your party…they did so well didn’t they?

    • Christopher C NC

      “I actually laugh reading the convoluted rationalizations of Diony, Barry and others.”

      Laughter keeps the reality at bay I guess.

    • sharpleycladd

      Well, if Bush was still in office, Osama bin Laden would still be alive. Oh, and Iran would have even more influence in the Middle East than they do with Obama in the White House.

      So there’s that.

  22. Dionysis

    “I can’t wait to read your contorted explanations and whining when a patriotic, liberty-loving conservative is elected in 2012 and our economy surges back like a rocket!”

    And some claim right-wingers have no sense of humor!

  23. D. Dial

    “I can’t wait to read your contorted explanations and whining when a patriotic, liberty-loving conservative is elected in 2012 and our economy surges back like a rocket!”

    You think we aren’t aware that big money is holding back funding, to create an artificial crisis, so they can scare people into voting for their “cheap labor” future????

    • Barry Summers

      And US businesses are sitting on record amounts of unspent cash.

      “The 500 companies that comprise the S&P index have about $800 billion in cash and cash equivalents, the most ever, according to the research firm Birinyi Associates.

      “The rating firm Moody’s says the roughly 1,600 companies it monitors had $1.2 trillion in cash at the end of 2010. That’s 11 percent more than a year earlier.”

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/31/gop-candidates-plans-on-economy-housing_n_1066949.html

      What are they waiting for? Americans need jobs, and the money to hire them is there, and the demand for goods and services will surge once people are put back to work, so again – what are these companies waiting for? Perhaps they’re listening to Limbaugh, Boortz, Hannity, etc., telling them NOT to expand their hiring until Obama is out of the White House.

  24. marketsondemand

    If all of these people would put as much effort on helping other people in need as well as focusing this much attention on contributing to society we would not be in the position we are now. Instead they are so concerned about being done wrong. If you do not like something stand up and make a change. Sleeping in a tent says nothing except that you are a lazy bum on a street. Reach out to your community and see what they need from you. How can you help them? Be Proactive not Reactive. I feel like I am sitting in classroom with Charlie Brown listening to his teacher and all I hear is Blah..Blah.. Blah..

    M.J

    • Barry Summers

      I feel like I am sitting in classroom with Charlie Brown listening to his teacher and all I hear is Blah..Blah.. Blah..

      Then that would make you a child, right? And a cartoon child at that.

      If you’re not getting why the Occupy movement started, then you are choosing not to get it.

  25. D. Dial

    If you’re not “getting” why people are riled up enough to start “occupying”…you may just be part of the problem.

  26. Dionysis

    “If all of these people would put as much effort on helping other people in need as well as focusing this much attention on contributing to society we would not be in the position we are now. Instead they are so concerned about being done wrong. If you do not like something stand up and make a change”

    How do you know that some, maybe many, of “these people” haven’t helped others in various ways? And what is meant by “contributing to society” anyway? Getting a job and keeping one’s mouth shut?

    Looking at the core issues that have given rise to the Occupy movement should cause every person of sound mind and sense of basic fairness to very concerned indeed. And just as history shows so clearly, when people focus collective attention on wrongs, they ARE standing up and making a change.

    • bill smith

      No, I think we all get what the ‘tea party’ was about; frustration with ‘big government’ as soon as a Democrat won the WH. And not a minute before.

    • bkepley

      Hardly. The Tea Party was a revolt against the usual Republicans and ran against Republicans much to the annoyance of Karl Rove.

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