Occupy on Wall Street- America heading in the wrong direction

November 4, 2011

Political economy


Over the past month and a half ongoing protests have sprung up in New York City, primarily based in Zuccotti Park on Wall Street.  This “occupy” of Wall Street has inspired others across the country to join in the ongoing protest and has spread to over 900 cities and has more than 70,000 active participants.  The protestors include persons from a variety of different political backgrounds including, socialists, liberals, anarchists, political independents, and communists. According to recent polls approximately 54% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the protest.  Furthermore, about 67% of New York City agreed with the protests and 87% agreed with their right to protest.  One Political philosopher who would completely agree with the demonstrators right to protest would be John Stuart Mill. According to John Stuart Mill’s theories, these protestors should be allowed to express their opinions and nobody has the right to tell them otherwise.

The most central focus of the entire occupy of Wall Street is that president Obama “ordain a presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.”  Essentially the protestors want to try and end the “excessive influence” of big business and the wealthiest 1% on the US government.  As remarkable as this protest group may seem, there are many problems associated with it.  First and foremost, for those protestors who don’t think the top 1% pay a lot of taxes, they do. For these protestors to have the audacity to say that the “rich” don’t pay enough taxes is absurd.  Clearly unbeknownst to many of these demonstrators, Americans who earn in the top 1% pay approximately 70% of the countries income tax dollars.  This means that that the “99%” pays just 30% of the countries income tax dollars.  Furthermore, not only do Americans in the highest tax bracket pay a whopping 35% marginal tax rate, but also corporate taxes in the United States are the highest in the world at 39.2%!  In recent years many nations have been lowering corporate income tax to create more favorable environments for business.  According to the Tax Foundation president Scott A. Hodge, the United States’ economic downfall will be the result of high corporate income taxes.  Hodge stated, “United States companies are now in the position of trying to compete in the 21st century world economy with a 20th century tax system, Dozens of countries around the world—including many of the United States’ closest trading partners—have realized that sky-high corporate tax rates are an economic dead end. Now more than ever, Americans want to see policies that will help create increased growth, more jobs, and higher standards of living – exactly the things that a lower and more streamlined corporate tax system can help achieve.” http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/16/america-to-have-the-highest-corporate-tax-rate-in-april/.

In addition to raising both income taxes for the very wealthy and corporate taxes, some of these protestors want our capitalistic system of government to come to an end.  They would prefer a more “fair” system of government where the distribution of wealth is more equal such as socialism.  The United States has been a capitalistic nation since its inception and it has always proven to work.  Founding fathers like Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson would be ashamed to hear such talk of abandoning a capitalistic system, while other political philosophers like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would be pleased to hear of such a change in government.  Jefferson once stated, “ to take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

What many of these protestors do not understand is that a socialistic system does not work nearly as well as capitalism.  You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.  In essence taking money from the rich and just handing it to the poor does not help the economy.  Not only does it dissuade the rich from spending money, but also takes away their incentive to work as hard.  Overtime this motive spreads from the rich down to the lower classes and eventually the money begins to run out.  On the other hand, Capitalism allows people to try and accomplish anything they desire.  In a free market economy anything is possible.  People have the ability to go from rags to riches.  A great example of this is Andrew Carnegie.  He started with nothing and died one of the wealthiest men of his time.  Overall it is time for these protestors to wake up and stop blaming capitalism and the rich for all their problems.  No one is going to hand them success on silver platter, they have to go out in the world and take it.

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