In the comments to a previous post, Permantexpat asked for my opinion on the burgeoning ‘we are the 99 percent‘ movement in the US. I say the US because the UK boasts an altogether more positive 99 percent organisation with a different agenda.
In the US, ‘We are the 99 percent’ has emerged from the leftist agitprop of the Occupy Wall Street foolishness. There are many tragic stories of misfortune among those who are now identifying with the 99 percent movement, but there are also many people who are involved for no more reason than they embody the politics of envy, the politics of entitlement, the politics of something for nothing.
There is a peculiar mindset among many on the left. It leads them to argue that if someone has wealth the state should take a slice of it and give it to others who are less wealthy. Never mind that many of those people with wealth have earned it through hard work, long hours, risk taking, personal and emotional commitment and a determination to succeed; they have it and the Wall Street occupiers believe that without putting in the same effort they are entitled to some of it.
I am part of the 99 percent whose costs are increasing, income is falling and for whom the economic mess is proving harmful. But I do not endorse or support the insipid, big state, authoritarian rent seekers who are leading desperate people down a dead end path.
The decent people who are suffering in the current economic situation, and through desperation are climbing aboard the leftist bandwagon, are right to protest. However they are protesting against the wrong people. The focus of their anger should not be Wall Street, it should be the White House and Congress. The root cause of what angers them is not those in the financial sector, regardless of the way many of them operated. No, the root cause is a combination of themselves and the government.
- Themselves because they allowed the politicians to con them into believing the state has all the answers and could be relied upon to throw a never ending stream of money at various agencies they could milk
- The government because successive administrations have gradually made millions more people dependent on the state for assistance and handouts, while pursuing policies that have driven up the costs of essentials
What has been lost on too many people is the adage that a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. The consequences of allowing this to happen are now coming back a vengeance. Now the handout tap has been turned down a large number of people are finding they have been living beyond their means. No one denies the difficulty this causes for many decent people, but demanding the handouts continue by taking money from those who are more fortunate is not the answer.
Occupying Wall Street will change nothing. Sleeping outside St Paul’s Cathedral will change nothing. The first thing to do is focus a campaign on the politicians – because it is they who have encouraged and embedded this situation – and demand a change in the scandalous government spending priorities and regressive policies which are driving up the cost of food and energy, hitting the poorest hardest.
What is required is an end to the corporatism that masquerades as democratic government. It won’t happen by protesting outside the offices of bankers and financiers. It won’t happen via movements which are steered by those who want to replace the damaging corporatist system with a damaging socialist system.
But when the decent majority wake up, stop being manipulated by the Marxists and leftists and demand action on their terms and focus on the political class, it will create the conditions for government in the people’s interest – where policies do not impoverish and the power games of the politicians are pushed out to the margins. We might at last get proper representative democracy.