The Occupy Wall Street movement rings tediously familiar to me, clichéd even. It’s not the mottled fusion of trendy grunge apparel, hip Emo couture, and the stylish para-military garb. Nor is it the predictable mass arrests, message incoherency, and the staged fist waving for the network cameras.
No, it’s actually the two clear themes the Occupiers persistently echo that are oh so passé; their call for a more centralized, all-powerful, paternalistic government and their oft-repeated opposition to the free market system.
I’m reminded of the G-7 demonstrators, the anti-trade rioters at the Seattle APEC conference, and the World Bank protestors of years past.
They lack the enlightenment of true revolutionaries such as Thomas Jefferson. Other established nations scoffed at his naiveté when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence the individual had the right “to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.” Jefferson joined other founding fathers who risked all to proclaim they would rather take their chances with an individual’s potential to create, innovate, and generate prosperity before they would give that elemental responsibility to any crown, feudal lord, or a state.
Jefferson was absolutely right to do so.
They lack the conviction and moral clarity of Emiliano Zapata who fought under the banner of “Tierra y Libertad” one hundred years ago during the Mexican Revolution calling for government to defend private property rights and individual liberty (The indigenous people rose up under his leadership to fight for the return of property confiscated by the government dictator, Porfirio Diaz, and his plutocrats called “Caciques”).
Zapata was absolutely right to do so.
In contrast, Occupiers actually call for, no… demand, that our government confiscate the wealth of their fellow Americans.
They covet what they have not earned. They march for a “fairer” and more “equal” America; these phrases actually translate to redistributionist policies, an even bigger role for government, and less American individualism. In a very real sense, they would have us all march towards serfdom.
They are absolutely wrong to do so.
The Occupiers rail against the true heroes who have been lifting people out of poverty and creating endless economic opportunities for decades, the very ones who made America the most prosperous nation known to man. They spew rage at the entrepreneurs, the dreamers, the innovators, the risk takers, and overestimate the power of government to do more and more, for more and more people. The top one percent are greedy they howl through their megaphones, and point to those at the bottom as evidence of the free market system’s failure.
In so doing, they ignore the stark reality of history. Large scale poverty, scarcity, and serfdom has been the fate of the world since the dawn of human existence. In actual fact, the degree of wealth, prosperity, and freedom at the massive scale we see today is a new phenomenon due in large part to the economic system adopted by America's founders merely two hundred years ago.
If people today suffer from continual poverty, it is because free market opportunities have been shut off to them by the growing size and scope of centralized government power.
Going way beyond the constitutional constraints placed by the founders on the basic role of government, misguided politicians converted the freest economy in the world into the less free, mixed economy we have today. In allowing an endless list of dependency-inducing social programs, protectionist policies, unfettered earmarks, scores of wasteful subsidies, excessive taxation and regulation to be approved, we lost our status of being the freest nation on earth.
As a result, private individuals, small businesses, and corporations now have less money in their pockets to expand, buy goods, or hire workers. Moreover, twenty-six million Americans are currently unemployed or underemployed. When you break these numbers down by group, we see an unemployment rate of 16.2 % for African-American males, 11.6% for Hispanics, and 8.1% for whites.
These statistics are unacceptable from any group. But make no mistake, advancing the statist ideas advocated by the Occupiers would make matters worse and decimate minority communities even more.
That’s a revolution no sane American should support.
Daniel Garza was formerly Associate Director at the Office of Public Liaison for the White House. He is currently the Executive Director of www.thelibreinitiative.com