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Davis, California

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Guest Opinion: Occupy movement is misguided

Jordan Carroll’s article in the Oct. 27 edition of The Aggie entitled “Occupy Wall Street: The UC Connection” and the protests that took place on campus the same day are perfect illustrations of the dangerous thinking that exists in the Occupy Movement. Although this movement is centered on the sentiment that banks are corporations are greedy, allegedly stealing wealth from and manipulating the working class, it has grown astronomically to embody the frustrations of all involved.

The massive success of the Occupy Movement cannot be attributed to the anger about “corporate greed,” but largely to the fact that it, quite simply, welcomes all angry people into its midst. We agree with the protesters on one thing: the banks should not have received the massive bailouts in 2008 and 2009, a fiscally irresponsible move that only increased the deficit of our nation. However, the attack on American capitalism is little more than cannibalism.

Protesters fail to realize that the whole point behind the concept of free-market capitalism is equal opportunity for all to attain prosperity. In America, we do have equal opportunity to achieve prosperity as a result of the freedom in our system, without discrimination against certain groups’ ability to get an education, find employment, start a business or invest in the stock market. Thanks to the freedom offered in this country, anyone is capable of forging their own future.

The Occupy Movement sees a discrepancy between the wealth accumulation of some compared to others; however, the claim that capitalism is entirely to blame for this is absurd.

Wall Street, banks and corporations being protested by this movement were bailed out by the federal government. The federal government heaped massive international debt across future generations of America to “save” these corporations from failing, a move we disagree with. Increasing the deficit like this can only increase the tax burden on working Americans.

Additionally, the financial crisis is not a result of a roomful of scheming corporatists; rather, the federal government crippled these banks and corporations when they regulated that they must decrease standards of loans and mortgages in order to accommodate people that Wall Street normally would not. This regulation led to the collapse of the market, as these individuals receiving loans were unable to pay back the money they were loaned and corporations were in massive debt.

The Occupy Movement blames the corporations when, really, they should aim their gaze at the federal government that tied their hands. If people wish to protest, they should protest the federal government that put banks in an impossible situation in the first place, followed by the infusion of trillions of dollars into the market to rescue them as a result.

In his article, Carroll criticizes the defunding of the UC System by the State of California and he was joined in this criticism by the protesters on campus. This defunding is committed by a democrat-controlled legislature in this state, a legislature that has managed to not only create giant deficits, but to do so while creating the highest tax burden of any state in the country.

The revenue collected by California is spent on its massive welfare state and the never-ending public pension liability instead of being spent on public education. This heavy pension liability extends into UC Davis as well; Carroll and the campus protesters are right to criticize our university for providing administrators with lavish salaries while the quality of our education continues to diminish, accompanied by higher costs. But this is not the fault of greedy corporations and banks or of free-market capitalism.

UC Davis is the public sector. If anyone is getting rich at the expense of the poor it’s not those on Wall Street, it’s those in the public sector because we pay their salaries. Occupy protesters in Davis seem to be confusing the the public sector with the private, perhaps because the movement leaves them with a need to find something to be angry about.

The free-market capitalist system allows wealthy individuals to prosper only when others provide them with that wealth by purchasing their products or services. I don’t see Occupy protesters complaining about the fact that they didn’t need to invent their own computer or build it. This is not a magic, wand-waving phenomenon; the private sector creates these luxuries.

Without the private sector we would not be as privileged as we are. Wall Street doesn’t tax you, they don’t steal from you; they may charge high prices, but in that case, don’t purchase what they sell.

Businesses and banks provide the American people with jobs. Unless you have a job in the public sector, you likely will work for a private company. So it’s quite hypocritical, and as we said, cannibalistic, to fight against the very thing that provides for your livelihood.

If you want to protest something like poverty and economic hardship, direct your protests against the tax-and-spend policies of the federal and California governments. By all means, tell the UC administrators how wrong they are to up their salaries and then demand more money from us, but don’t confuse that with the alleged failures of capitalism. Call it like it is: corrupt, over-spending government.

Dustin Call and Marcus Shibler
Davis College Republicans



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