I thought some of the signs at Tea Party rallies represented sheer ignorance, but the Occupy Wall Street protesters are giving them a run for their money. These people know their trendy brands and piercings, but they know nothing about economics.
Take this guy on the right. Please take him. Can you think of any rational argument that Wall Street is responsible for “most of the poverty and suffering on this planet”? I can’t. I can usually take the flip side of almost any argument and find an approach to make case. There’s just not a rational argument for this one.
When the federal government and the Fed poured money into Wall Street banks in the past few years, it was wrong. Those firms should have been allowed to fail. That’s what makes the market work correctly — the fact that if you perform poorly, you fail. But the politicians in DC got scared and pulled their friends out of hot water. So why aren’t the people on Wall Street protesting against the politicians and the Federal Reserve? They’re the ones with the real power.
Unfortunately, most of the protesters seem more interested in sloganeering than in reality, and most of the slogans I’ve seen sound as though they might have been cooked up at a brainstorming session with the Socialist Workers Party or something similar.
Take the example below. It says, “A job is a right! Capitalism doesn’t work.” We talked the other day about the modern myth that a job is some nebulous thing that’s manufactured somewhere “out there” by politicians. A job merely represents what value you provide to someone else. If you provide value to someone, you get paid. If you sit around waiting for someone else to give you something, you will have nothing.
You have no right to a job. You have no right to anything other than to be left alone. Anything else that you gain on this Earth comes about because you voluntarily exchange something with other people. The sooner these economic illiterates understand this — and act on the knowledge — the sooner they’ll have more in their lives.