Rick Akin: I am an Occupier
November 12, 2011
I am an Occupier. Well, sort of.
Hearing the reports about the Occupy Wall Street crowd, I decided to try to figure out what it is they are demanding. I ran across the 99 percent declaration that purports to lay out their areas of concern. I am a little cautious about relying on something like this because, as is the case in the tea party, the objectives of the participants vary, but I thought this would give at least some insight.
Some of the points of concern are entirely legitimate. It is clear the group does not like corporate bailouts. They do not want politicians to receive undue perks. They favor term limits for congressmen. They want a tax code with fewer loopholes and deductions. They want the national debt reduced. They want border enforcement and immigration reform. They want campaign finance reform. They want the Federal Reserve reformed or eliminated. They want public education reformed. They want to end China's currency manipulation.
Despite these valid concerns, the group goes off track in a number of respects. The common thread in their concerns is a distrust of government. This is well-founded. In crafting bailouts, the government picks winners and losers. Those making the choices are influenced by financial interests, in the form of campaign contributions and otherwise. The government is prone to dole out favors in the tax code, by selective enforcement and otherwise. The government often is ineffective, inefficient and a poor enforcer.
However, the Occupiers want to solve the identified problems with more government — more regulation and higher taxes. If your irritation is a government that doles out favors, is ineffective and inefficient and is populated with corrupt officeholders, why would you want to give it more power? You don't trust the government, but you want to put it in charge of health care, you want it to guarantee that every American has a job and you want it to ratchet up regulation substantially. This is a prescription for disaster.
Characterizing yourselves as the 99 percent also is disingenuous. If you were really 99 percent of the population, you could enact whatever you want with virtually no effort. You are, in fact, a small, dissatisfied minority. And that evil 1 percent that you revile — who are they? You may be a bit surprised to learn that few of them populate Wall Street. The most recent data I can find indicates that about one-fourth of them are doctors, lawyers and similar professionals; about 5 percent are technical professionals; about 4 percent are blue-collar workers; and more than 4 percent are in sales. In other words, these folks are spread all over and are folks you meet every day.
The Occupiers are the result of a few unfortunate trends. They are the result of whipping up class envy and the glorification of protesters that seems to have started in the press in the 1960s. I have no doubt that in the vast majority of cases, their motivations are good, but their solutions are horrific. Go to a tea party meeting. There you are very apt to hear analysis of Austrian economic theory, natural rights and any number of other theoretical foundations for the policies that are promoted. You also will see folks who are not motivated by envy. As they know, and as studies prove, people from top to bottom are most prosperous where government is least intrusive and markets are freest.
Occupiers, the solution to your grievances is less government, not more government.
Finally, my Occupying friends, violence, while sometimes justified, is a last resort, not a first resort.
So, Occupiers, I admire your idealism and your exuberance, but I reject your illogical solutions and your offensive tactics. If you really mean to effect a change, to make a difference and not just get on the nightly news, you can do it. Any number of us will help you do it because in the end, we are all trying to solve the same problems.
The Occupiers seem fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson. They should consider this Jefferson quote: "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned — this is the sum of good government."