On the Brink, Part 2
I would like to expand a bit on my last post, which addressed how anti-capitalists, best demonstrated by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Movement, wholly misunderstands how the economy works. In this post, I want to expose how this group came to be, and to offer some solutions to the class angst being propagated by the Occupant-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, and his Anonymous Legion.
Harsh, you may think, but make no mistake: If President Obama weren’t President, he would be right there in the middle of the movement, organizing people against each other; it’s all he knows how to do. As a Constitutional law professor, he taught students from Saul Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals how to attack wealth, whether it be in the banks or corporations, based on their “self-interest.” For those paying attention, it’s not a surprise that a legion of Obama followers have taken to the streets.
It is the intent of the President, and OWS, to divide us on economic grounds, and in turn, bring down the economy. Even New York City Mayor Bloomberg agrees that the protesters are trying to “destroy jobs for the working people” of New York City. What the protestors don’t realize is they will only punish themselves, as customers of the banks and corporations they wish to punish. Consider the fact that protesters decry the recent $5 fee leveraged by Bank of America on its customers, who in turn, blame the recent Dodd-Frank Financial Regulation Act. This serves as a clear example of what my last post was about: Government intervention eventually hurts us all.
For months, we heard Obama denounce our nation’s “millionaires, billionaires, corporate jet owners,” which he defines as a family making more than $250k/year. His Left repeated the attacks: “millionaires, billionaires, corporate jet owners. We watched them repeat the screeds, and pick-pick-pick at “millionaires, billionaires, corporate jet owners,” blaming them for all the ills of our society. The Left targets oil companies, banks, corporations, and capitalism largesse, calling on certain people to “pay their fair share,” and telling them they must “sacrifice.” For an exercise in historical context, replace “millionaires, billionaires, and corporate jet owners” with “Jews,” and this demonization of a particular group may sound all too familiar (think Germany, 1935).
The protesters call themselves “the 99 percent,” and denounce the top 1% of wage earners who control 35% of wealth. To be precise, they also pay 38% of our nation’s taxes, and earn 18% of income per year. As a matter of fact, the top 5% pay nearly 60% of this nation’s taxes, and the top 50% pay 97%. Given this disparity, “the 99 percent” may want to take heed of the actual 50% who would be effected by increased taxes on personal income and the corporations and banks upon which our economy relies.
For the “Occupying Left,” there is no math in the equation: this is simple class warfare. The good news for us is, these people, and the President himself, are in the Marxist minority.
So who else is behind the movement? Is it truly organic? If you check the Wikipedia page for Occupy Wall Street, you will see the first inklings of the movement began with AdBusters, a Canadian anti-corporate organization, which has been given grants by the Tides Foundation, which is funded by none other than the antisemitic socialist George Soros. So where did the free food and medical supplies for the movement come from? Are they provided by Soros? Are the trust fund baby protesters robbing Mom and Dad to fund the movement? Or are the protesters having to resort to the capitalist system for their supplies? (See spoof video here.)
Along with their supply chain support, OWS is backed by a faceless group, Anonymous, who has taken to social media to instigate the Occupation and disrupt the economy. Yesterday they targeted the New York Stock Exchange by Internet; today OWS marches uptown, to the homes of Wall Street billionaires. I’m not sure how far all this will go, but we are, indeed, on the brink of destroying ourselves. I sense the seeds of a larger cultural revolution afoot, coming from both Left and Right, and it will be directed one way or another by our actions in the days to come.
On a few particulars, protesters on the Left and Right – OWS and the Tea Party – are not far apart. It is no surprise that a plurality of OWS protesters are pro-Obama Democrat voters, just as a plurality of the Tea Partiers are pro-Bush Republican voters; therefore, the vast majority of opinions are dichotomous. Indeed, a lot of the OWS’ fundamental arguments – the right to a college education, right to a job, etc. – are as stupid as some of the worst Tea Party arguments; i.e, “Keep your hands off my Medicare.” Everyone senses America is in a rut; few have answers on how to advance.
However, Left and Right agree on some essential points:
1. Corporations should pay the same tax rate as people.
2. Bank bailouts should not occur with taxpayers’ money.
3. Wealth distribution, and how it occurs, needs to be analyzed.
Moving past that, the Left wants “fairness,” which means equality of outcome; the Right wants equality of opportunity in a free economy, which produce diverse outcomes. For the OWS movement, that is inherently evil, and those who succeed – corporations and the like – should pay. If they followed their line of reasoning a bit further, it would take their movement to those who are writing the rules. General Electric paid no taxes in 2010, not because of losses, but as a result of their collusion with the Obama Administration’s Stimulus package; therefore, government shoulders a lion-share of the blame, as they are the only entity with the full force of the law behind them. Corporations and banks cannot force citizens to bail them out; only government has that compulsory power.
The Tea Party calls for lowering of taxes and cutting spending, while OWS wants to draw similarities between their movement and the Arab Spring, particularly the movement in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. I would refrain from doing that, particularly when Iranian military commanders – and the aforementioned AdBusters organization – are calling for an “American Autumn.”
To be “fair” – my least favorite four-letter F-word – I’ll recommend this video for a more objective view of the movement, and this video, even, for a favorable view. I believe the OWS movement is bringing out the worst in the Left, something you can see in both videos.
A Lost Generation
My generation disappoints due to a couple of factors: a lack of civics study in high school, and a media-academia-political tumbler of doctoral college professors and reporters who are literally “circling the wagons” on political thought amongst today’s youth. This has created a disrespect for our founding principles and a disdain for our free market system. Most are like 17-year old Deandra Villalobos, who has taken up living in Manhattan as part of the OWS movement, and feels the country is “hopeless” – although, for her, Obama carries none of the blame. She does have a point: There has been a “dumbing down of the education system,” and she is indeed part of a “stupid generation.”
Youth are idealistic, believing the la-la land mysticism promoted by their icons. Make no mistake, the young have always leaned Left; but rarely have they been all-out socialists. Youth aren’t going to college for a job; they’re wanting a liberal arts degree – which I understand, seeing as I have one. Somewhere along the way, though, you have to think about a job; these kids aren’t doing that. The “artists” and “writers” at OWS complain about not having a high-paying job; these educated people chose a life of poverty. Nobody wants their product, so they stay poor. It’s that simple.
Success is childishly targeted as “greed,” as something to be admonished for. At a basic human level, though, “greed” is a founding reason why people go into business. Greed and wealth should not be demagogued, but instead, understood and appreciated for what it is. Greed does not disappear under socialism – it is merely controlled by some central planning committee somewhere, lining their own pockets, through compulsion.
Ownership of private property used to be an American goal, in the Lockean tradition, and was respected as a basic right. Now the brown shirts of my generation want everything to be socialized and considered “rights” of all, with the individual a less important factor. I am less than optimistic for the future of this country, considering the next generation is being brought to Wall Street to protest, starting this week.
A Waiting Economy
It is my belief there is an economy out there, waiting to be explored. I believe this is a more efficient, smarter economy. People on both sides of the political aisle want it; there is a demand for smarter energy and transportation, smarter food products and distribution.
The fact that your average meal traveled 1500 miles to make it to your plate should concern you. We can do this better. A new economy will rely not just on existing businesses, but on start-ups, who need the investments of venture capitalists. How many unemployed at OWS would be willing to work at a Google or Apple style farming initiative, or a company specializing in clean water generation, or clean energy?
The elevated “social consciousness” among the OWS movement is, in fact a market to be tapped – not by government or labor unions, but by the corporations who want to grow, and the banks who have to make the funding decisions – the very people targeted by the protesters are the very people they will rely upon. Roughly a trillion dollars sits on corporate balance sheets – not in pockets – waiting to be leveraged. Demand is shaky, on the whole, because of uncertainty in federal regulation and taxation. I’m not so sure all this confusion and suffering isn’t exactly what the Jacobin in the White House wants.
I think I’m just as surprised Barack Obama – apparently, aimless and alone - is the Occupant of the White House as he is. As Obama’s four year term/assault comes to an end, Americans are looking for another way. While this is not an endorsement of Herman Cain – not yet, at least – I would like to highlight the candidate, because, among the GOP, he has the most to offer. If you haven’t seen his resume or heard his message, Cain is a business man and a conservative with libertarian leanings. He has a “9-9-9 Plan” for the economy, which consists of a 9 percent corporate tax, a 9 percent personal income tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax. That’s it.
Even though Herman Cain is in a battle of words with the Occupy Wall Street crowds, I believe he could actually garner their support with 9-9-9, if he got out there and spoke on it, for the following reasons:
1. It taxes corporations at the same rate as people.
2. It eliminates all corporate tax loopholes.
3. For lower tax brackets, it eliminates the 15.3% payroll tax and replaces it with a 9% income tax. This increases take home pay by 6.3%.
4. Purchasing used items, such as cars and houses, are tax-free transactions.
With this message – and the mathematics behind it – he could attract broader support for the most serious laissez-faire proposal in recent history. Laissez-faire government is fair. The 14th Amendment guarantees “equality under the law;” that should apply to tax law as well. The 9-9-9 plan does just that.
Author Robert Heinlein once wrote, ”The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” Therefore, it’s naturally difficult to get libertarians – those lacking the desire to control others – into office. Those who desire to control end up in control. It’s time to turn our attention on those who have actually created this mess, and it ain’t Wall Street; it’s those in control. That means we must pay attention.
“The most serious dangers for American freedom and the American way of life do not come from without.”
~ Ludwig von Mises, 1940