Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy This

“The ultimate decision about what is accepted as right and wrong will be made not by individual human wisdom but by the disappearance of the groups that have adhered to the "wrong" beliefs.”- F.A. Hayak


“Power to The People” is alive and well, boldly manifesting itself in the “Occupy Wall Street Movement”. It hasn’t quite reached Grayson County Texas yet, but down the road in Dallas I hear there are protests. Nothing so far in my hometown of Fort Worth where the local authorities tend to be less tolerant of free speech without a permit or at least a property tax receipt.

From what I can gather from various articles and surveys, it seems that the OWS crowd is mostly pissed about the rich being too rich and having too much influence on our government. Beyond that they are all over the place with regard to proposed solutions. As I pick through all the stuff they are throwing up against the wall, I find myself in agreement with them on three major issues: (1) The most wealthy among us should pay more taxes, (2) There is too much money going toward influencing political decisions and (3) Our Free Trade policies are not free, nor are they fair, nor have they been without negative consequences for many working Americans. Frankly, these are not new issues. They have been the subject of much debate and discussion for generations. And, I think most Americans are in general agreement about the need to address these three issues.

What concerns me about the OWS crowd is that they are, for the most part, advocates of socialism over capitalism. Again, this is a debate that has been going on since the middle of the 19th century. While we have bastardized our capitalist system to the point where it has major problems, it still beats the hell out of any form of socialism. Many of our problems are the result of government getting involved in areas they should not be involved in or bad policy in those areas where they should be involved. Many tea-partiers and libertarians would disagree with me, but government DOES have a role to play ensuring that we have a properly functioning economy.

I recently re-read F.A. Hayak’s classic book, “The Road to Serfdom”. It was written back in the 1940’s and remains one of the best books ever written in support of individual freedom and capitalism. Hayak, like Adam Smith, does an excellent job of describing the role of government in supporting a capitalist system. Moreover, like Smith, he eloquently describes the economic reality and power of individualism (capitalism) vs. collectivism (socialism).

I’m not sure how we bring the left and the right together to solve our problems. I’ve stated before that congressional term limits would be a great first step. We don’t need lifetime, career politicians running this country. I also think that our media has a role to play. We simply don’t get unbiased information. Much of it is leans left and what doesn’t is so far to the right that it’s even worse. Most Americans simply don’t know the facts when it comes to our economy or our government. Points of view tend to develop out of need and circumstance and are validated by ones channel of choice. Once developed they are surveyed and political strategies formulated to capture the votes. Our government has become the largest non-profit business in the history of the world and it is totally failing to achieve the purposes for which it was created. And that, my fellow Americans, is on us.

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