by Travis McCormick
With no coherent message or demand, the Occupy Wall Street protests have spread like wildfire around the country, gaining a following from a variety of different factions from as far left as Socialists to as far right as Libertarians. Rightfully angry at the state of our economy, these people seek to change the system through passive protest by holding up signs and having demonstrations.
The “99 percent”, as they like to be called, began their protests out of anger towards Wall Street’s wealth in comparison to their own. Angered by the government’s bailout of large corporations and banks, this diverse group of protesters took the streets to take a stand.
The anger towards the bailouts is completely understandable. As a conservative, I am equally angry that the government intervened at all, let alone using countless tax payer dollars. That being said, Wall Street didn’t bail out Wall Street. A democratic congress and the current administration did. If protesting was truly effective and they wanted to make a real difference, they should have “Occupied” Washington, because the Federal government is the true source of our country’s woes.
The government, instead of the private sector, has over the years become in control of so many things it was never intended to control, spending money we do not have to fund them. Welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, social security… now Obamacare, are things were never meant to be governmental functions. However, since the days of F.D.R., the government has slowly picked up these responsibilities and has grown past the point of sustainability.
As a country we spend so much time and money helping those that “can’t” (don’t want to) help themselves that we have lost the competitive edge that has historically made us a powerful nation. A country is only as valuable as what it produces and we consume way more than we produce in this country. That too, can be traced to the advent of the “welfare state”, as we have taken away incentives for people to work these low-skill production jobs. It simply is not a logical decision for someone to work unskilled labor, when they can avoid working all together and collect state dollars.
Ideals such as personal responsibility, personal freedoms, fiscal conservatism and hard work are what this country was built on. The idea that given the freedom to prosper, a person can do great things with hard work is the notion that has made America great. As the country has aged, people have slowly started sacrificing these freedoms in favor of government assistance in the form of handouts and regulations.
Instead of being an individualistic nation, in which each person is responsible for their own happiness and success, we as a country have developed this mentality of “they can’t help it” and “it’s not their fault”. People imply that because someone lacks the drive to succeed on their own, that it is the rest of the country’s responsibility to pick up the slack and take care of them. That is just not right. By doing this, you not only place a greater burden on our productive citizens, but you literally take away any chance of success from our lower classes. Some of the greatest men in history stepped up and became men out of necessity; we are depriving our most vulnerable citizens of this chance by not allowing them to accept accountability for their futures.
Being soft is no way to be a great nation. We became the best because as a country because we could do what needed to be done, without thinking twice. World War II wasn’t won through making compromises; it was won through the individual efforts of countless Americans using strength and ingenuity. We did what we needed to win and we weren’t afraid to work hard to do it.
The key thing that the “Occupy” movement is missing is the notion of hard work. If they spent as much energy actually working within the system as they do trying to create a new system, none of them would be out of work. Being as creative and good at networking as many of these people are, it should be no trouble for them to find a job, or even create a job.
Recessions and depressions will happen. Capitalism comes with risks. However, it is also the most equitable and fair system there is, and it rewards those that put in the most, increasing the human drive for ingenuity.