Perhaps I’m reading the intentions wrong, but I feel the commentators are missing the point of Occupy Wall Street.

I don’t think anyone (excepting perhaps the socialist fringe) is calling for an end to income inequality. Income inequality is not a problem per se — what’s worrying about our current situation are the extremes in income inequality.

Even these are not the real problem, but rather a symptom of the pervasive fraternization between those with money (big business) and those with lawmaking power (the federal government). And by this I hope no one means to imply a dark conspiracy — it is simply the case that those of the same social class (the rich and powerful) tend to associate, to play golf together, to scratch each others’ backs and to generally improve life for one another.

The problem is that big business and government have become so closely entwined and the economy so precarious that the close cooperation between these groups has become a detriment to the rest of the nation. For a while, the Americans on the outside were content to turn a blind eye to the arrangement, which probably emboldened those involved. What the Occupy movements are trying to accomplish, I hope, is simply to put the fear of the Common Man back into the system. They are saying, We the people are well aware of how you operate. You’re not getting away with it to the extent you think you are.

Government ought to be a little bit afraid of its constituency.

It’s foolish to expect those doing the Occupying to have a solution for the problems they are bringing to light. They are not the ones inside the impressive edifices. Effectively, Occupy is a grass-roots watchdog organization and nothing more.

Nor should we view it as an especially partisan enterprise. Occupy is not a liberal cause. It is, or it ought to be, the cause of the common American. Politicizing these issues may make them more readily digestible, but it obscures the fact of what has got so many people fired up in the first place. Remember, the Tea Party was another spontaneous response to almost exactly the same issue. The Tea Party were upset that those in power were offering charity to those who least need it — those with money. Similarly, Occupy is angry at those with money who use their financial reserves as a kind of gravity to bend the lawmaking process to their advantage.

What Occupy wants, and what we should all want, is for lawmakers to make just laws with minimal concern for directly benefiting their top donors; and for corporations to earn their profits without supplicating the federal government for special advantages.

That’s not an interest of the Left or the Right — it’s a requisite for democracy.


November 5, 2011