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November 16, 2011

The Lesson From Occupy Wall Street: Don't Bail Out Anyone

Like the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street has captivated the public's attention over the past several weeks. Unlike the Tea Party, however, the message behind Occupy Wall Street (OWS) seems to be quite foggy and confusing. Despite this, I believe that the bailouts caused this protest and without them, OWS would be non-existent.

The OWS movement clearly attacks the top 1% as greedy people who make profit 'on the backs of' the other 99%. However, if you look at the history of the United States, one should ask, if our economy is such a zero-sum game, how did we create a middle class? Unfortunately, by the government back-stopping so much of what the 1% was behind in 2008, the economic fallout, combined with the class disparity has created this problem.

I believe what OWS wants is simple. They want wealth to be forcibly taken from the 1% and distributed to them. This group does not care if the method is defined as socialist, communist, or even anarchist (which it wouldn't be the latter), they simply want a third party (likely the government) to be convinced to back their cause.

They are suffering. They are unemployed, up to their ears in student debt, and trying to find meaning and purpose in life. But, is this the way to do it?

Businesses where OWS are operating near are now laying off employees as a result of the negative economic impact of their protests. These aren't members of the top 1% but waitresses, chefs, and busboys. These are people trying to make their own living and have their own struggles to go with it. Looks like the unintended consequences of OWS are more of what they don't want to happen.

But, back to the lesson behind the OWS movement. I believe if you bail out one entity or type of entity, then any other entities that struggle along the way are going expect a bailout. A good example of this would be the parents of three adult children giving money to one of the kids in order for them to get by. If, in the future, one of the other children comes under duress, what will their expectations be? In addition, what will their reaction be if they don't conveniently get the support they were expecting? The lesson here is no less.

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