On The Occupy Wall Street Movement

“We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy.” – Henry Miller

(Photo: david_Shankbone)

Traveling over the last few months I have seen the Occupy Wall Street Rallies in Chicago and London.  Even though the OWS message is not particularly well framed, the underlying theme of income inequality is.  As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow I suspect more and more will be drawn to the movement or similar movements.  If the gap becomes big enough it eventually will lead to social instability like it has so many times before throughout history.

Money has interesting properties, it gravitates towards those who already have it.  Once those who have it control too large of a share it tends to want to be redistributed again, either through social programs and equality or through revolutions and the barrels of guns.  Only to start the cycle all over again.

I believe there are a few flaws with the OWS logic of blaming all the ills on the greed and hubris of the financial industry. Having spent the last 7 years living in Florida I have seen first hand what happens when everyone thinks they will be the next real estate mogul by flipping houses and investing in real estate.  The financial mess was created equally by the greed of the “Average Joe” then by the banks.  Wall Street might have sold the public the noose, but it’s the public who demanded that noose and who fought each other for the privilege of putting their neck in it.

The financial industry is not any more or less greedy than it was ten, twenty, fifty or one hundred years ago.

Capitalism is greed by nature.

Big business will always be the fox that tries to kill and eat the hen, it’s the job of the government to put up good fences to keep the hens safe. Unfortunately over the last few decades the foxes have been dictating where the holes in the fence should be.  But the nature of the fox has never changed it’s just the government has changed from having run mostly by hens to being run by foxes.

Here is an interesting diagram of the revolving door between government and big business.

Thanks to Larry Lessig

Government of big business for big business.

What’s interesting is that the Tea Party movement believes that the government is the root of all evil. The Occupy Wall Street movement believes that the financial industry and big business are the root of all evil. Little do they realize that they are really all one in the same.

Viva La Ocupación!

Michael Page

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  1. Love this article, well explained. I really like the part about how wealth redistributes itself when things get too top heavy – I never realized that.

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