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Do Wall Street Protesters Have A Point? What Are The Solutions?

October 12, 2011

By Ben Boychuk

THE ISSUE: As productivity has increased, wages as a share of the economy are at their lowest in more than 60 years, while profits account for the largest share of the economy in 60 years. Occupy Wall Street protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate against what they see as financial greed and corruption.


Sure, but ...

Action to what end, Pia? I know comparing Occupy Wall Street with the tea party movement is a mostly futile exercise, but the two disparate groups do share a general discontent with The Way Things Are Now. To cite one grievance among the many on Occupy Wall Street’s rambling list: “They (the banks) have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity.”

They certainly did. Who could possibly disagree?

Yet the tea party, for all its imperfections, rallied around the idea that the government is too big, too powerful, too expensive, too accommodating of special interests – especially the banks – and too unaccountable to the people.

The tea party called for less, not more. You can’t have something for nothing.

To the extent the Occupy Wall Street protesters articulate anything resembling solutions, they want more government, not less, and plenty of something for nothing. More taxes on the rich, more regulation on those greedy capitalists, single-payer health care, student-loan debt forgiveness, and a living wage – “regardless of employment.” Good grief!

How about more taxpayer-financed stimulus while we’re at it? Assuming it could pass, President Barack Obama’s vaunted “jobs bill” would be great for public employees – especially teachers – and unionized construction workers. But it wouldn’t do much for the private sector.

Why not? Because for every dollar government spends, that’s one dollar the private sector cannot invest.

True, the private sector isn’t investing right now, even without this jobs bill. In fact, U.S. corporations were sitting on more than $2 trillion in cash reserves as of June, according to the Federal Reserve. Surely they could free up that money, hire some of those indebted Wall Street occupiers, and get the economy moving again.

But they won’t. Because just as the Obama administration dreams of 35,000 federally funded school renovation projects jump-starting the economy, it also imagines that tens of billions of dollars in new mandates and regulations will have no impact whatsoever on the way businesses make decisions.

Here’s my proposal: Scrap the new regulations and undertake a top-to-bottom overhaul of our tax code. Broaden the tax base and eliminate the loopholes that let General Electric get away with paying nothing in corporate income taxes.

Taxes should be low and flat, and federal government spending should be more in line with the revenue it collects. We can argue whether flat taxes are “progressive” enough. To the extent everyone benefits from the protections government provides, everyone should pay.

In other words, rich or poor, “1 percent” or “99 percent,” you can’t have something for nothing.

Original Source:



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