A common theme at the various occupy events seems to be misdirected outrage. While many attendees are properly directing their rage the enabler of both out-of-control corporations and bankers a majority I’ve talked to seem to direct their rage simply at the corporations and bankers. Neither large corporations or the bankers could have gotten away with what they did unless the government granted them immunity and bailed out their failures with taxpayer money.
Under such circumstances further government involvement is the last thing anybody should be calling for:
Even Hessel denounces that lobbyists have overtaken government in “the highest spheres.” Nevertheless, he seems to believe that if government were to have more control over industries, corruption would not do its harmful work. In other words, for Hessel, if politicians and bureaucrats had more power than they currently have, the system would be less corrupt. History, however, shows that Lord Acton was right: the more power there is in the hands of the rulers the more corrupt the system becomes. The greatest failure of socialism was not that it brought about economic misery to the masses it was supposed to help but that it created a class system more violent and rigid than anything the Western world had ever seen. The central maxim of socialism — namely, equality — was betrayed as soon as the revolutionary leaders consolidated their power over the state. The new elite created a two-class system that rested on systematic coercion: on the one hand there were the party leaders and their friends who lived like kings enjoying all sort of luxuries, many of them imported from the capitalist world; and on the other hand there was everyone else, fighting for survival.
The quote by Acton references in this paragraph was, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” A government by definition has absolute power because they enforce their rules at the point of a gun. Giving the goons in government more power is only going to allow them to strangle you harder while gifting your money and belongings to their friends. The former Soviet Union demonstrates this fact well as members of the Communist Party enjoyed lives of luxury compared to the average citizen living with its borders. Likewise the bankers couldn’t have pulled off what they did if the government had not given them the ability to print money via the Federal Reserve:
Regarding the “dictatorship” of the financial elites, denounced by Hessel and movements such as Occupy Wall Street, this is again mainly the product of government. We have a banking system that can only work the way it does because it is based on fiat currency and is supported by a central bank — that is to say, a government-created agency of monetary central planning. Central banks provide private banks with liquidity, allowing them to expand the money supply in a coordinated fashion, thereby creating financial and real-estate bubbles. But more importantly, banks take the money given at artificially low interest rates by the central bank and use it to speculate. The dramatic rise in the price of raw materials and agricultural commodities since 2008 is basically the result of the inflation created by central banks. The most perverse consequence of this government-induced inflationary process is that it redistributes wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich financial elites and governments, for whom inflation works as a hidden tax.
The poor aren’t getting poorer because of actions taken by “the corporations” (I put the term in quotes because many people blaming corporations don’t even know what the term really means and instead believe it to simply mean big businesses). Your money is able to buy less and less every day because the Federal Reserve is able to print money. When you inject more money into an economy each monetary unit becomes less valuable (its purchasing power is reduced). Likewise stop blaming the rich who obtained their wealth by providing better goods and services to you and me:
Bill Gates for instance, for a long time the richest man in the world, has improved the lives of all of us with his inventions. We have freely decided to buy Microsoft products because they are useful; thus everyone has benefited. In the same manner, when we go to the baker next door and buy some bread, both parties to the transaction are benefiting: the baker because he has money to buy other goods and services he needs for himself and his family, and we who now have delicious bread to eat. It does not make any difference if this baker becomes a millionaire by selling his bread. Actually, it would mean that he is good at his job, so he expands his business in order to satisfy the demand. Why should we be outraged if he becomes rich in the process? We should celebrate the fact that he was prosperous. His prosperity means more jobs and more bread for more people. From every point of view, the millionaire baker is performing a social function. In the same fashion, Bill Gates’s inventions increased productivity, bringing millions of people over the poverty line around the world.
Just because somebody has a great deal of money doesn’t mean that they’re evil. I would go so far as to say a majority of those who are wealth obtained their wealth legitimately and should be celebrated for serving society so well. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Henry Ford didn’t obtain their wealth by using the government’s monopoly on violence, they obtained it by providing a good or service that a large number of people wanted. So when you decide to tweet about your hatred of “corporations” from your iPhone 4S stop to think for a second and realize Twitter and Apple have done you no wrong. You should be outraged at your government who stole money from you and gave it to the likes of General Motors, Chrysler, and many of the largest banks who you voted to fail by purchasing their competitors’ products. Unless the government decrees otherwise you have a choice in what companies you do business with so vote with your dollar, you don’t have a choice in what government services you wish to partake in though and that’s what you should be pissed off about.
If you’re outraged by current economic conditions don’t demand the government step in to intervene, demand the government get the hell out of the way.