NN&V Exclusive (David Mansdoerfer) – Have you heard of the Occupy Everything movement? Well, in case you haven’t, you might like to know that the movement that started on Wall Street is now coming to Las Vegas. Yes, on October 6th, hundreds will take to the street decrying the injustice of people being wealthy, corporations earning money and government inaction during this recession.
While I definitely do not agree with the premise of their argument, it is clear that the people of Las Vegas, who are burdened with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, are flat out frustrated. Indeed, while it is easy to dismiss the occupation effort as a political stunt or a reverse Tea Party movement, this movement should be more concerning because of what it actually stands for – an assault on capitalism.
Today, fewer and fewer Americans believe that they can get ahead. In many cases, there is a grain of truth to that statement. Our current tax system is riddled with deductions and credits that make for an uneven playing ground for both individuals and companies. Government, on all levels, is continuously fighting for a bigger chunk of funding and coming up with different taxes and fees they can place on consumers and businesses. Yet, as opposed to the Tea Party movement, which believes in the free market, the Occupy Everything crowd has firmly placed their trust in the government to solve their problems.
That leads us to a fundamental question. Who should we have more faith in – the government or the free market? The answer to this question generally depends on each individual’s background. If you are for the free market, which I am, you believe that people will be paid on the value of the goods or services that they produce. You also believe that anytime the government gets involved in the market, via taxes or regulatory requirements, pockets of inefficiency are created and the market becomes unable to act properly.
If, however, you place your faith in the government, as the Occupy Everything crowd does, you believe that the same politicians and bureaucrats that are funded by so called “special interest” groups understand job and wealth creation. You also believe that regulating the free market is essential to ensuring fairness and that the best path to income equality is through redistribution rather than empowerment.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that the Tea Party and Occupy Everything crowd are radically different in nature. I mean, they are angry at the same thing – the economy and unemployment. Yet, while they are both angry at the same thing, they differ in one key area – who they are angry at.
I don’t begrudge the Occupy Everything crowd their anger. Times are tough on everybody.
But, instead of focusing their anger at the free market, they should turn their focus on the true culprit of this mess – the government. We shouldn’t blame the free market for playing by the faulty and irresponsible rules that the federal, state and local governments make them abide by. Instead, we should focus on enacting serious reforms that level the playing ground for everyone – individuals and businesses.
The Occupy Everything crowd has the right to be angry. In fact, they have every reason to be angry. But their anger is misguided. It’s not capitalism and the free market at fault in this mess. It is the government they should be upset with. Not for its inaction. But for its previous actions that led us to this point.
(Mr. Mansdoerfer is the Director of Legislative Affairs for Citizen Outreach. He holds a Master’s degree in public policy with an emphasis in international relations and state & local policy from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. You can follow him on Twitter at @DPMANSDOERFER)