WASHINGTON, October 25, 2011—Over the last few weeks, the Occupy Wall Street protesters have gained in numbers and momentum, and have gained a national audience. While they are not a singular voice or a homogenous entity, they are generally angry over the bailouts, the collusion between big corporations and government, and the top 1% of income earners in the country. They blame Wall Street for our economic problems, they feel that corporations have negatively influenced our quality of life and have corrupted our government.
The occupiers are right to be angry at the system that has let them down, and in some cases kept them down, but they incorrectly lay the blame with capitalism and the free-market.
It was not the free-market that caused the housing bubble or inflated the currency. There is no place for bailouts or stimulus bills in capitalism. The big culprit in this mess is the system of corporatism. This is the system in which the state spends its money on corporate welfare, or the financial support of large corporations at the expense of the taxpayer and, in effect, picks economic winners and losers.
The government defends these actions with the claim that it is stimulating economic growth. Nothing could be further from the truth. The effect that this has on the economy is that it takes away the power of the citizens and the free-market to decide who the best providers of goods and services are, and even if a corporation fails to meet the needs of its consumers, it will still be compensated. This is not due to the wealth being deserved, but caused by special interest groups who care only about lining their pockets with ill-gotten money. This is not the way a free-market works.
One example of this corrupt government scheme is the bailouts received by the auto industries when they would have gone out of business otherwise. The claim was that these companies were “too big to fail” and if they went bankrupt, the entire economic system would have collapsed.
This is yet another economic fallacy created by the government and those who received the bailouts. While there would have been a temporary recession, it would have ended long before this point, and the markets would have recovered more quickly. The companies would have most likely gone bankrupt and as a result, other business would have seen a large increase in profits due to gaining the customer base from those failed companies.
This is the process of the free market. Depending on how well a company supplies its consumers, it profits and stays in business, while companies that fail to meet their customers’ needs fail. There is no system more fair than the free market: Good businesses win while the bad ones go broke.
The state does not typically like this system, especially if its side loses. For all the government does is pick economic winners and losers, and productivity be damned if they disapprove of the free-market outcome.
If free markets had ruled, the banks would not have been bailed out, there would have been no useless stimulus bills, the auto companies would have been allowed to fail, and the American taxpayers would be over a trillion and a half dollars richer. But instead of looking out for the best interests of the American people, our federal government took the side of large corporations and claimed it acted to save the economy. It is a wonder that any of the occupiers can still support big government when it props up big business to take advantage of the common man.
The Occupy Wall Street crowd has good reason to be frustrated. They, along with the rest of us, are being held back by the system that perpetuates the bailouts, corporate welfare, and inflation. What they have yet to figure out is that none of these are symptoms of capitalism or the free-market. These are symptoms of collusion between government and big business which is designed to benefit those in power, and to defraud the middle and lower classes of America.
The only thing Americans have more of now is unemployment and debt. When the occupiers realize this, they will no longer be protesting in front of Wall Street, but on the White House front lawn.
Conor Murphy is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in political science. As a former radio talk show host on WVCW, Conor hosted two popular shows, Murphy’s Law and Son of the Revolution. You can read more of his columns in The Political Pro-Con at The Washington Times Communities.
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