Sunday, October 16, 2011

OWS and 99% vs. 1%

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"Occupy Wall Street" has a slogan "99% against the 1%."   But who are the one percent?

Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away last week.   He was certainly in the top 1% of Americans as far as personal wealth goes.   And the reason he was there, was because with his life he served people well.  He provided products that people wanted.  People voluntarily gave him money in order to get those products.   His long success shows how many were happy with the exchange.

Former Goldman Sacs boss Lloyd Blankfein is also in the top 1%.   He got there by running a firm that lied to its clients.  It sold them what they claimed were sound securities while at the same time they were betting that the value of those securities would crash.   When his firm made investments that were profitable, they kept the money.   When they made disastrous bets that threatened the very solvency of the firm, they used their political connections to force the U.S. taxpayers to take those bets instead.  
 
Both of these men are in the top 1%.   One of them was a blessing to the lives of millions of Americans.   The other was a parasite who produced nothing real of value.    He enriched himself and his cronies off the labors of honest Americans.   Occupy Wall Street would be wrong to treat both of these members of "the 1%" the same.

Using the principles found in Scripture as a basis for public policy, as well as a basis for living private life, I find that I cannot endorse the politics of envy.   Just because someone has more than us is not justification to have the government come and take it from them.   "Thou shall not steal" and "Thou shall not covet" are simple, direct, honest, commands.  And in our times, they are the exact reverse of what is practiced in post-modern politics.

Experience has shown us that demagogues elected on promises to the masses that they will loot "the rich" on their behalf are not kept.  The truly rich have many options.  They don't normally consent to hang around to be made into tax slaves for the benefit of the demagogue's purchased popularity.  If they can't arrange loopholes for themselves they simply leave.   At that point the man whom the masses elected to hold the gun for them simply turns that gun on the middle class.   This group of people is much easier to plunder.   They have far fewer options to escape the demagogue's robberies than do the truly rich.   

A just public policy would not treat Steve Jobs and Lloyd Blankfein the same just because they were both in the top 1%.   A just public policy would be one that distinguishes the part of the 1% who earned their money serving others through honest and voluntary trade from the 1% who got their money by fraud and deceit, and political favors.   Members of the first group should be praised by the state.  Members of that latter group should face the sword of government justice.

We live in times where lying is typical and it is hard for an honest man to make a living.  Because so much wealth in our current economy is ill-gotten, it is easy to fall for the idea that all those who have wealth got it by cheating, and therefore it is OK for government to take it from them.   But not all wealth was obtained by cheating.  Most of it, especially among the upper middle class, was obtained by living well and serving others well.   Society is best served by them staying at it, and that means letting them keep most of what they have earned to give to others as they see fit.   It’s not those who have wealth that should be targeted, but those who obtained it falsely.  



5 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Now that Occupy Wall Street has come to Arkansas let's realize that not all "1%" people are alike.

4:56 AM, October 17, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lloyd Blankfein

I piss on your name, you thieving bastard.

3:52 PM, October 17, 2011  
Blogger Linton said...

I'm very disappointed in the way national conservative commentators, and local ones like Dem-Gaz columnists and Dave Elswick, are turning criticism of Wall Street into somehow being a criticism of people who produce and contribute to society.

I'll admit that the OWS stuff leans very left, but there's still hope out there for some common ground against crooks. Thanks for your post.

2:01 PM, October 18, 2011  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I don't get thanks often, so back atcha. I am looking for a balanced view of all this, and as you suggest, its hard to find.

8:36 PM, October 18, 2011  
Anonymous Andrew said...

The "OWS" protest is on Wall Street, a symbol of where money is made without the production of products. It's difficult to distinguish between the good and the bad of the 1%, but making money from other peoples money is a start, where as Steve Jobs made money by making great products.

9:44 AM, October 20, 2011  

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