We’re Not All That Different
Occupy Saint Louis is in full effect, and my co-worker Patrick Ishmael and I dropped by last Friday for the group’s afternoon march. I can only claim superficial exposure to the pulse of this particular group at that particular time, because I was in the crowd but not of it, and I didn’t take the time to talk to anyone while I was there. Most of the signs I saw and chants I heard involved “jobs,” though there was also a call-and-response that got a lot of play: Call: “Whose streets?” Response: “Our streets!” I’m not really sure what that one meant.
I have been reading quite a bit about the protests going on in New York City, in the rest of the country (my cousin participated in Occupy Omaha, he’s the one in the suit near the center) and even around the world. The protests and the protesters are not totally united in their goals or their beliefs, but there are certain common threads that bind the movement and represent a shared objective. One of the most common complaints you’ll hear is anything along the lines of “get Wall Street out of Washington.” This is an expression of the idea that business and government should not have such cozy relationships. The word for this concept in popular usage is “corporatism,” and although the protesters may not realize that a free-market think tank represents an ally in their fight, we have published countless studies and commentaries asserting that government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the marketplace.
We oppose tax credits such as the Aerotropolis subsidy package, film tax credits, and other publicly-funded business incentives. Indeed, so strong is our stance against corporate welfare that it’s one of our six main policy areas.
The Occupy protests and the people calling themselves the 99% are fired up and out on the streets for a reason. H.L. Mencken said “Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under,” but when left and right are aligned in opposition to pervasive policy that hurts all but a very few well-connected people, and when thousands take to the streets to voice their disillusion, there’s a glimmer of hope for real change to the status quo.