Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy this!

The "Occupy Wall Street" movement didn't really capture the attention of this quixotic iconoclast at first. They seemed like just another group of latte-sipping hippie-wannabes complaining about a bunch of things.  I mean, back in my day we had real hippies.  Their first manifesto didn't help matters, because it was a seemingly-unconnected list of social grievances:

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

Really, seriously, this is about animal testing and cheeseburgers?  Nothing invites mockery and scorn like condemning the cheeseburger.

Yet, as time has brought out more of their complaints, it seems that not all of them are ridiculous.  I recently got a really good laugh out of this column.  If nothing else, Occupy Wall Street has created comedy gold:

As thousands have gathered in Lower Manhattan, passionately expressing their deep discontent with the status quo, we have taken note of these protests.  And we have asked ourselves this question:
How can we make money off them?
The answer is the newly launched Goldman Sachs Global Rage Fund, whose investment objective is to monetize the Occupy Wall Street protests as they spread around the world.

Capitalism is indeed the engine of our great wealth, and free markets are the best system to bring prosperity to our country.  Yet, if we look at the growing divide between the richest Americans and the working poor, we have to ask ourselves, are the working poor being treated fairly in our society?

"The workman is worthy of his wages" says the Bible, and the scriptures are very, very clear that employers should be fair in paying their workers, and should not exploit them.  At the very least, we need to ask ourselves the question "Is prosperity being divided, or is all of it going unfairly to a few?"

Whether you like it or not, we live in a society that was collectively built. The JP Morgans and Warren Buffets created a lot of affluence, but our society was built by a lot of regular, working-class people. Consider this excerpt from the bio of the most recent recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award our nation can offer to those soldiers who exhibit selfless courage in the face of danger:

When President Barack Obama's staff called Meyer to set up a time for the President to inform him that his case for the Medal of Honor had been approved, Meyer was working at his construction job and asked if they could please call him back when he was on his lunch break, which they later did. Dakota then returned to work.

I have great respect for Warren Buffet and his accomplishments, but no one will convince me that he's done more for our country than Sergeant Meyer. Here's a man who not only rushed headlong into enemy fire to rescue his countrymen (members of our society) but now works building the structures that house our society.

Mr. Buffet has had the opportunity to create his immense wealth because of the sweat and blood of many other Americans. Many people have died defending our free markets, people from every social class. Men and women like Sergeant Meyer risk their lives for our freedom.  Policemen guard the streets that Mr. Buffet walks. Firemen protect his buildings. They are paid by his taxes for their services, but they devote their lives to our society.

If you want to operate in our society, respect the society and be willing to pay the cost of doing business here. Every hand that contributes to the building of it should be able to enjoy the fruit of it. 

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