Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy a job!

How does the 1% get to be the 1%? Does being the top 1% make them evil and greedy? Does it mean that they owe a debt to society? Do they need to "give back" some of what they have "taken?"

In a free market, most of us are not born into the 1%, but we all have the opportunity to use our minds, to work hard, to learn, grow, and innovate, and become part of the 1%. I find that to be a very noble goal. In a free market, all transactions are voluntary trades. A voluntary trade is, by definition, win-win. Both parties are trading for something they value more than what they are giving up. When I buy something, I am choosing one product out of millions of options, and one seller out of many, and I am freely choosing to trade my money, representing the product of my labor, for that product. That means I believe that the product is worth more to me than the work I put into earning that money. If someone is in the top 1% of income, it means that he has produced more value than the 99%. He doesn't need to "give back to society". The act of honestly earning money benefits society more than it benefits you.

Liberals get all wound up over how much corporate executives earn. What is important to remember is that all of the transactions up and down the chain which lead to that executive's pay are voluntary. If the board of directors think that they are getting their money's worth, what is that to me? It is their money, not mine.

But the fact is we have not had a free market economy for a very long time. Everything changes when the government subverts the free market. Some people are a part of the 1% because they play the system and benefit from government tampering rather than earning their way by trading value for value. Bailouts, stimulus, corporate welfare, Halliburton, Freddie Mack, Fannie Mae, Government Motors, Solyndra, etc. People call it "crony capitalism", but that is an oxymoron. Cronyism is not capitalism at all. In capitalism, decisions are based on economic self-interest. Cronyism means that decisions are based on political pull. If the government mandates that everyone must buy a certain product, then the seller no longer has to trade value for value. When government bails out a failed bank, every taxpayer becomes a stakeholder in that company. If they pay their CEO a huge bonus, we have reason to be upset about that. When government gives huge amounts of money to special interests, that is not wealth created by the recipient.

Occupy Wall Street would be right to object to people who get rich off of government corruption, but their demands indicate that ending government redistribution of wealth is not their objective. They are not demanding that top-down command and control economics stop. Instead they are demanding their piece of the pie. They want in on the action. They are going cap in hand looking for some more of the largesse to come their way.

As part of the 53% of American's who pay Federal income taxes, I object to Occupy Wall Street claiming to speak for me, with their mantra of "We are the 99%". Perhaps if they were to Occupy a Job they would get further.

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