Illogic of the Wall Street Occupiers
- 23 October 2011 by Author 0 Comments
Illogic of the Wall Street Occupiers
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 10/23/11
I find myself in absolute agreement with one component of the demonstrators defining themselves by the acronym OWS (Occupy Wall Street). The government bailouts which buoyed up failing bank, brokerage, and insurance firms, as well as the auto industry must stop. Bailouts of states, of education entities, and unions must stop as well. Which leads me to wonder, why are they demonstrating on Wall Street rather than Pennsylvania Avenue or Capitol Hill?
Bad government regulation and bad corporate decisions led to the recent recession, which is statistically over although it doesn’t feel like it. One of the best protest signs from the OWS people read, “It’s wrong to create a mortgage-backed security filled with loans you know are going to fail so that you can sell it to a client who isn’t aware that you sabotaged it by intentionally picking the misleadingly rated loans most likely to be defaulted upon.”
The protestor in front of that hand-made sign, in the spirit of full disclosure, should’ve gone to the root of the problem with a poster reading something like, “It’s wrong for the government to force lenders to make loans to people they know are going to default on, and for the government to implicitly guarantee those loans through their mortgage agencies which forces securities companies to do everything listed on the next sign.”
Wall Street firms didn’t create the regulation that brought us to this juncture; they had to live with it. And they didn’t do the bailing out, they benefited from it. So why not go to the source of the bad regulation and the bailing out nonsense? Blaming Wall Street firms for the bailouts is like blaming the vagrant for accepting a handout or blaming parental overindulgence on the child that accepts his umpteenth iPad.
Bad behavior, whether on Wall Street or in the walls of our own homes should never be rewarded, regardless of the causal elements that contributed to it. Yet that’s precisely what the bailouts did. And if the OWS crowd could look past their ideological underpinnings they could see the causal forces of bad government regulation which led to the bailouts. Which when you think about it, actually represented a congressional bailout of their own failed policies related to the mortgage industry.
The illogic of the OWS folks gets even more interesting and hypocritical from there. Many of the protestors express the sentiment that their higher education should be given to them, or decrying the income gap between the rich and the poor. So what are they asking for? Money? A block grant for educational expenses? That sounds a great deal like a personal “bailout.” This duplicity shouldn’t surprise us, as logical homogeneity has never been a characteristic of the radical left.
The theme for the occupiers is straight out of a Socialism 101 textbook, “We are the 99%.” Lamenting the fact that they’re losing their jobs, losing their homes, and not getting paid enough, they aim their scorn in typical socialistic class-envy fashion to the “wealthy.” Considering that it was Washington regulation and policy that created the housing crisis, and it’s Washington politics the past five years that have turned off the spigot of private sector jobs, the fact is underscored that they should be protesting on the steps of the capitol rather than on Wall Street. If they wanted their protests to resonate with mainstream Americans, they would focus their efforts on the causal influences of their discontent, rather than the symbolic representations of what they don’t have.
This practice of demonizing the “haves” by the “have nots” is characteristic of all the socialist revolutions and is usually couched in terms like “social justice” in U.S. politics. Based on little more than covetousness, the notion is that the assets of the “haves” should be taken and redistributed to the “have nots.” While theoretically appealing from an egalitarian perspective, it is a classic Nirvana logical fallacy, for it assumes that such wealth redistribution is possible, even though it’s never succeeded even when it’s been attempted.
And to illustrate the inanity of such “social justice,” what happens when those who think, create, and produce are penalized inordinately for doing the very things that earned them their pecuniary reward? As with any legal activity for which there is a punishment, it will reduce its occurrence. And what happens to incentive, initiative, and productivity when all workers are compensated at the same level, regardless of output? What happens to individual self-worth and self-affirmation when compensation levels are equal and have no connection with productivity?
Clearly the Wall Street occupiers are little more than 21st century Bolsheviks, embracing and advancing an ideology based on egalitarian class-envy, narcissism, and covetousness, all of which are distinctly antithetical to the American tradition.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at email@example.com.