The left end of the political spectrum is sparsely populated, if the “occupy” efforts provide a reliable indication of public support for whatever the “occupiers” advocate.
When only a small fraction of the public shares the views of those who come out and “occupy Wall Street” or Seattle or wherever, the turnout is sure to be small — as it has been so far.
Try to imagine attracting a noticeable number of people to “occupy Bay Street” in Port Orchard, and it should become obvious that the problem is more than the emptiness of the gesture.
Not only is there no likelihood of affecting public policy through such demonstrations, there is no validity in the left’s old ideas for achieving what they call social justice.
Most rational people recognize that a capitalistic, market-based economic system has proven to be the best way to provide what most of us need and want.
Sure, the cycle of boom and bust that is apparently an unavoidable part of such a system is unpleasant, but getting through the downturns and back to growth can be done.
And it’s true that the system always results in great material success for a small number of people, which can be irritating to those who covet what success provides to those few.
Faced with the unequal results and the inevitable recessions, the left has long advocated government intervention — as though government could do a better job of avoiding slumps and fairly distributing earnings.
Their assumption that government could achieve what they think is social justice even leads them to wonder why so many people vote against their own interests when electing representatives.
It seems not to occur to them that most people have rationally concluded that a market-based economy — despite its shortcomings — is the best way to serve their own interests.
Compared to “Tea Party” activities that began in 2009, the “occupiers” lack both public support and supportable ideas.
People who turned out to make their opinions known in Tea Party events didn’t get all they wanted, but they had a noticeable influence on what really matters, namely elections.
And they may continue to have such an influence on future elections of representatives who can steer the government in one direction or another when deciding questions of public policy.
Even in the Tea Party, there aren’t many people who want the government to take a hands-off approach to the economy, so the argument revolves around what to do that won’t ruin the entire system.
One issue that seems to worry many, if not most people associated with Tea Party ideas is the growing government debt that has to be repaid.
Avoiding ruinous debt is a goal that most can agree with, but exactly how to achieve the goal is not an easy thing to decide.
Government spending of borrowed money in efforts to stimulate economic growth is intervention in the market-based economy just as much as hobbling businesses with regulations is intervention.
When government borrowing involves amounts that are almost impossible to imagine, the specter of inevitable ruin becomes very easy to perceive.
Finding the right degree of regulation to maintain a competitive market and a sustainable level of spending to accomplish government’s proper functions are perhaps the key issues.
What do the “occupiers” have to offer in the debate over these issues? Not much, if their efforts to date are any indication.
They apparently don’t like the concentration of wealth or the distribution of earnings that occurs in our economy.
Concentration of wealth is a necessity for a capitalistic economy, since it makes possible investments that provide jobs to so many people.
And high incomes make the concentration of wealth possible, so using government to take more of the income or wealth and redistribute it puts the entire system at risk of failure.
Simply advocating a little more redistribution to find the right level wouldn’t seem like a very risky proposition to offer, but the “occupiers” don’t appear to have such a debate in mind.