What the Protests Really Tell Us About Economic Systems

Even Occupy Wall Street cannot fight the inherent need in individuals to prosper from their work, as evidenced by a scattering of news reports and videos. Capitalism, the very system that the protestors are railing outwardly against

is the system th

at they appear to yearn for within the OWS organization. Socialism, the system they are trying to promote, is creating dissension within their ranks. Altruism do-goodism and wealth redistribution only go so far when individuals run out of goods, services and the will to produce. Consider some recent developments:

What lessons can be learned from the Occupy protests? First, the grievances over government’s involvement in subsidizing the private sector through corporate bailouts are valid. If mismanaged firms are propped up and rewarded for bad behavior, they will continue down the same failed path. Whether the protests will change anything of significance in this area remains to be seen.

However, the lessons that are not printed on the signs or shouted through the megaphones are far more important:

1) Socialism is a failed economic policy. Individuals who work for the good of society but not for themselves will eventually encounter the free-rider problem and produce less or stop producing at all.

2) Altruism in and of itself does not meet people’s needs. In order for people to truly have their needs met, they must have the freedom to produce, sell and purchase without fear of confiscation. Developing countries grow not because a non-governmental organization goes in and distributes food, but because they have economic freedoms and secure property rights that enable them to develop and market their talents.

3) Proponents of wealth distribution love the idea — that is, until their own wealth is distributed without their consent. Just ask the Occupy protestors who have collected money for the Finance Committee that they never see again. Ask those who have had valuable goods stolen during the protests.

4) The idea of a “fair share” of taxes is intangible. Even when CEO Peter Schiff asked demonstrators what percent of his income he should pay in taxes, nobody provided him a clear, concrete answer. While many favor a progressive income tax system, attempting to define a “fair share” is wildly subjective and can hardly be quantified.

5) Government regulations, not the top one percent, keep ordinary people down. The top 1 percent got there in spite of the urdles they faced through burdensome regulations and a complicated tax system (although perhaps a few of them were lucky enough to receive tax-payer funded subsidies).

Sadly, not everybody has the patience, fortitude and wherewithal to deal with the bureaucracy, so many who would like to create a niche for themselves in the world of entrepreneurship will give up trying.


Comments (2)

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  1. Buster says:

    From what I can tell, their only source of funds is begging for donation from people passing by who work on Wall Street. That doesn’t sound sustainable once they dismantle Wall Street.

    The drummers have learned an important lesson: 1) nobody protects possessions like an owner. 2) In collective societies there is no money for big purchases that benefit only a few individuals. There are massive numbers of people needing food, shelter, bedding, etc. Did the drummers really think the Politburo was going to cough up $8,000 for new drums because someone vandalized or stole their old ones?

    The cooks have also learned a valuable leseson: there are plenty of freeriders when something is offered for free.

  2. Brian says:

    Years ago, on a college campus I observed some of the left wing organizations in action while they were organizing their activities. They were arguing over some minutia on the grounds that they were aiding some nefarious capitalist in buying certain materials for their demonstration.

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