Thursday, July 31, 2014

Occupiers Like Government

I'm in the middle of investment guru Peter Schiff's video on his visit to Occupy Wall Street.  The setup is that he's wandering around the Occupy encampment in the fall of 2011 with a camera crew from Reason magazine and a protest sign that reads: I AM THE 1%. LET'S TALK.The full version goes on for 1:48 hours.  Or you can get the gist with the 18 minute cut.

My takeaway is that the Occupy protesters all agree that they need government holding a gun to the head of their employer if they are to get a fair shake in the world.  They've internalized all the lefty talking points but are completely ignorant of the righty talking points.  As far as they are concerned, without government they'd all be getting paid subsistence wages in sweat shops with no health care, no pensions, no benefits.

So, they don't understand the market, they don't understand business, and they don't understand government.  Otherwise they are pretty smart; they know all about memes and protest tactics.  But what would you expect after a K-graduate school education conducted by government functionaries?

Look, I get it.  Most people work as employees for The Man.  Their uppermost thought is a worry that they'll get laid off. They do not think: Hmm, I wonder how my employer is doing, how many projects are in the pipeline, how well the company products are priced.  They just think: Wow, I could get fired tomorrow.  Then they think: Wow, if only the government could stop my employer from laying me off.

To understand that the market is a regulating mechanism that coordinates the activities of millions of people and hundreds of thousands of businesses through the price system is completely outside the reality of most peoples' lifeworld.  The idea that surrender to the price system is the first step on the road to prosperity sounds completely crazy.

The other side of this game is that lefty politicians understand instinctively that people must believe that the corporation, not the price system, rules the world if the left's agenda of enlightenment and liberation is to win.  Otherwise voters will hesitate to vote for bigger government.

And that's the key.  People must believe that force is needed before they'll vote for more government.  If you listen to the Occupy protesters talking to Peter Schiff you realize that our millennial young 'uns have been perfectly socialized to vote for more government.  They all believe in force.

But what's the reality?  Daniel J. Mitchell has a nice little link to a piece on the history of sweatshops from Ben Powell of the Independence Institute.  Did you know that workers flocked from the countryside to the sweatshops in the early 19th century?  Yes, conditions were horrible, compared with today's Third World sweatshops, and in some of them people worked for 16 hours per day.
Yet workers flocked to the mills. …sweatshop workers…were attracted by the opportunity to earn higher wages than they could elsewhere. In fact, economist Ludwig von Mises defended the factory system of the Industrial Revolution,…writing, “The factory owners did not have the power to compel anybody to take a factory job. They could only hire people who were ready to work for the wages offered to them. Low as these wage rates were, they were nonetheless more than these paupers could earn in any other field open to them.” …Mises’s argument is supported by historical evidence. Economist Joel Mokyr reports that workers earned a wage premium of 15 to 30 percent by working in the factories compared with other alternatives.
And so the population in Britain tripled and then doubled in the 19th century.

The truth is that nobody has any problem with paying people a premium of 15% to 30%.  What gets everyone riled up is when the business cycle turns down and the factory owners want to cut wages.  This is regarded as an outrage.  And a guy like worker Joe Soptic thinks it is monstrous for private equity guy Mitt Romney to restructure his steelworker job out of existence.  Because in the mind of Joe, he has a property right to that job, and the bosses have a moral obligation to pay his wife's health care bills.

In my mind, Joe Soptic thinks like a serf, and so do most of the folks in the Occupy movement.  And in my mind it is a bloomin' shame that the political leaders on the left won't educate their followers to the facts of life in the industrial age and lead them to the golden future of responsible individualism. Liberals get their power from keeping their voters on the liberal plantation and don't see why anything should change.

And yet.  The interesting thing is that the working stiffs of the 1930s grew up into 1950s suburban householders.  And now there's a new generation on the way up. I saw a construction truck near my house yesterday that had "Chavez LLC" emblazoned on the side.

Despite all the propaganda about the horrors of big corporations people still want to start their little business; they still want that little house in the suburbs.  They still want the peace and tranquility of middle class respectability.

But how?  How can this be happening when 100,000 liberals chant with one voice and 100,000 liberal hearts beat in unison about the wonders of marriage equality and the horrors of the Republican "war on women."

I will tell you what I think.  I think that there are millions of black women who ache for a marriage and a house of their own and two kids growing up straight and true far from the roar and the violence of the big city.  But these women have been cruelly and corruptly misled into a reactionary racism and kept on the liberal plantation where their desperate votes can be used to keep the current liberal ruling class in power.

One beautiful day, un bel di, the world will change, even if it changes too late for Butterfly and today's adult black women.  The rage of those black women, cheated for half a century from the good life of middle class respectability, will be something to behold.

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