Chris Christie Tries to Make My Point: More on Building Common Ground between OWS and the Tea Parties

My thanks, to the non-candidate:

I think if you look at the Occupy Wall Street folks and the Tea Party folks, that they come from the same perspective, they just have different solutions.

Especially because for this attempt to build some common ground, the Governor caught no small amount of flak. Per Beltway Confidential:

But in reality, the two movements offer different solutions precisely because they come from different philosophical perspectives.

The general thrust of the Tea Party movement is a belief in individual liberty and personal responsibility. Tea Partiers want government to take as little of their money as possible and provide as few handouts and subsidies as possible.

By contrast, Wall Street protesters are more focused on income inequality, and they believe that government should play an active role alleviating this problem by imposing a bigger burden on wealthier Americans and offering more services to the poor.

Yes, but no. This isn’t a debate between frontier independence and “gimme!” — though both are fundamentally economic movements. If one sets aside the Marxist minority (as we should), I suspect most individual protestors at Occupy Wall Street would agree with the tea party that capitalism works, and everyone can and should stand on their own, but for two caveats. First, Occupy Wall Street acknowledges (and the tea party ignores) that unrestrained capitalism can actually create impediments to individual wealth creation. Monopolies, securities fraud, reckless speculation, etcetera, are all externalities that can’t be fought by individuals, nor overcome by the individuals they victimize. Second, Occupy Wall Street acknowledges (and the tea party ignores) that in a complicated modern society, some may be left behind by no fault of their own. OWS would answer both problems with government action; the tea parties, with silence.

We should all agree that capitalism works. It’s worked, on the whole, for more than two hundred years. We simply disagree about whether laissez faire, unregulated capitalism adequately provides for the entirety of society, and especially for those on the margins.

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2 comments

  1. Yes, but no. This isn’t a debate between frontier independence and “gimme!” — though both are fundamentally economic movements. If one sets aside the Marxist minority (as we should), I suspect most individual protestors at Occupy Wall Street would agree with the tea party that capitalism works, and everyone can and should stand on their own, but for two caveats. First, Occupy Wall Street acknowledges (and the tea party ignores) that unrestrained capitalism can actually create impediments to individual wealth creation. Monopolies, securities fraud, reckless speculation, etcetera, are all externalities that can’t be fought by individuals, nor overcome by the individuals they victimize. Second, Occupy Wall Street acknowledges (and the tea party ignores) that in a complicated modern society, some may be left behind by no fault of their own. OWS would answer both problems with government action; the tea parties, with silence.

    Yes, but no. Or maybe yes, but more. For instance, crony capitalism is alive and well in America, from city governments giving preferential zoning decisions to well-connected developers to Congress rewriting patent and copyright laws at the behest of the existing multinationals in preferred industries. That creates impediments to individual wealth creation for the non-well-connected, but it isn’t anything that the victimized individuals can fight or overcome – and since it’s caused by the misuse of government power, additional government action seems unlikely to help.

  2. First, Occupy Wall Street acknowledges (and the tea party ignores) that unrestrained capitalism can actually create impediments to individual wealth creation. Monopolies, securities fraud, reckless speculation, etcetera, are all externalities that can’t be fought by individuals, nor overcome by the individuals they victimize. Second, Occupy Wall Street acknowledges (and the tea party ignores) that in a complicated modern society, some may be left behind by no fault of their own. OWS would answer both problems with government action; the tea parties, with silence.

    Funny that Steve and I picked up the same quote . . .

    Steve, while you are correct in diagnosing the actors placing many of the impediments (i.e. Congressional passage of “patent reform laws”), what you fail to remember is that those impediments are really started by capitalist forces, and there is simply no other restraint other then government. Grants, ours seems to be a modern case of the most extreme regulatory capture you could dream up, but its still the only game in town.

    And because of that, it is the only mechanism left that can, in effect blunt these externalities that are not the result of laziness or lack of personal responsibility. I would suggest, however, that the legislative and executive branches of government have become too corrupted to act – thus we must turn to the ever loathed legal system for redress.

    On that point, perhaps Ames can enlighten us as to how constructive legal action might arise from one side or the other to become a force majure to begin the corrective process that markets will not, and government can not undertake.

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