We’ve seen beyond a shadow of doubt that the Occupy Wall Street protesters don’t understand economics and don’t understand the source of our financial problems. Until now, though, I could say, “But at least they all understand bailing out the banks was a bad idea.” Unfortunately, even that was too charitable.
The first professional survey data about the protesters is out, and the information is pretty interesting. The thing that really jumped out at me, though, was the news that half of the protesters believe the big bank bailouts were necessary.
So let’s try to wrap our heads around this. They are angry that the banks got our money, so they’re protesting there. But a full half of the protesters believe it was necessary for the government to give billions and billions of dollars to the banks. How do their heads not explode from holding this contradiction inside?
Do these people not understand that businesses which take unwise chances and lose deserve to go out of business? Do they not understand that what economist Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction” is necessary for the market to work?
The survey from which this information comes was done by long-time Democratic Party pollster Douglas Schoen. Anyone who’s under the illusion that these are just frustrated mainstream types hurting from the bad economy needs to listen to what Schoen writes about them:
What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.
Schoen warns that the embrace of the protesters by Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats might lead to catastrophic losses in next year’s election. He compares the situation to Democrats who were badly hurt in the mid-term congressional elections of 1970 because of being identified with anti-war protesters. The entire article is worth reading.
Still, I keep coming back to that contradictory idea that half of those protesters honestly seem to believe that the bailouts were the right thing to do. That’s why they’re not really upset with politicians. That’s why they’re not really upset with the Fed. They’re just upset with the free market, because they’re delusional enough to believe it was the free market that caused the problems we’re living through today.
How do you reason with people who can believe something that irrational? I honestly don’t know. The truth is that only the free market can save us, but neither the politicians nor the protesters want anything like that. They want to continue taking us down the path toward collapse. They have no idea what they’re doing.