Hey, Occupy Wall Street: Wealth Isn’t a Civil Right


There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Everything demanded by the Occupy Wall Streeters — whether “free” health care, a “world-class education” or a “guaranteed living-wage income regardless of employment” status — costs money.

When a CEO makes a lot of money in the private sector, it is because his company — rightly or wrongly — values that CEO’s services at that price. To say it is “not right” that a CEO makes (fill in the blank) times more than the janitor is to say it is not right for the marketplace to set wages. If the marketplace ought not set wages, then who or what should?

Most people work for the private sector, which cannot exist without profit.

Is the OWS objection to bank bailouts on the grounds that government should not protect businesses from the consequences of their actions? Or is the objection that bailouts should be for everybody?

We already have a huge welfare state, with entitlements — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — the biggest expenditure of the federal budget. Europe’s welfare state is larger, with a slightly smaller “gap” between the rich and the poor. Yet its citizens also take to the street to denounce inequality. Puzzling, isn’t it?

No one can legally ask about the immigration status of a public school student, so Americans and non-Americans, including illegal aliens, receive a K-12 public education at taxpayers’ expense.

Per-pupil spending for public education increased 49 percent from 1985 to 2005. Community colleges are cheap, and many states guarantee a junior college graduate admission to a public four-year college.

The physical advantage that men possess over women is an increasingly small advantage — given the decline of labor-intensive jobs and the technology that makes it easier for machines to do hard, dangerous, repetitive work.

There are more tenants than landlords, which thus exemplifies the stupidity of “rent-control” laws. Rent-control laws disproportionately benefit the non-poor because the elite pull strings, work the system and are better connected than the non-poor. All of this matters when items of scarcity (in this case, apartments) are dispensed by government dictates rather than through prices.

Government possesses no money of its own. It raises money by taxing, by borrowing or by printing.

The bigger the government, the smaller the private sector.

Individuals can spend their money more wisely, efficiently and more humanely than can government.

People value and spend their money more wisely when they acquire it by their own efforts — also known as work. There are real-world, direct consequences on you for squandering your own money, as opposed to when government squanders the money of its people.

Government employees enjoy job security unknown in the private sector and are often paid more than their private-sector counterparts. Greed?

People spend their money more humanely because they won’t waste as much of it. Consider that to deal with “the poor,” the federal government has a vast array of agencies, programs and policies. But only about 30 cents of each dollar designated for the poor actually gets in the hands of the recipient. Contrast this with the United Way, Salvation Army and other private charities where 90 cents of each dollar donated gets to a beneficiary.

Americans agree that some people — whether faultless or irresponsible — need assistance, if only occasionally. The only issue is (SET ITAL) how (END ITAL) they will be helped.

Americans are the most generous people of any industrial nation. We give more of our time and money than do the Germans, British and Japanese. Note that those states have a bigger public sector than we do. Maybe they feel they gave at the office.

The U.S. Constitution isn’t just any ordinary document. It is the contract between the government and its people, the ones who empower government and who — once upon a time — expected the Constitution to restrain government, not empower it.

Government’s involvement in housing caused the meltdown — not greedy Wall Street bankers. The same Occupy mindset caused the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, placed on human growth hormones by President Clinton, who pushed banks into lending to poor credit risks and allowed Wall Street to play with taxpayers’ money.

There is no bad guy. It’s not the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist or the Maltese Falcon. There is no evil entity, snorting steam from his nose, standing in an office full of Nazi memorabilia, staring out the window with the cityscape view, laughing: “Ha! Ha! Ha! Pretty soon, all this will be mine. Mine, I say!”

Life has never been so good, with so many choices, with so many more conveniences, so much less danger of dying from disease, with so many choices for entertainment and affordable travel.

When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul. But at some point Peter begins to feel taken advantage of.

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit www.LarryElder.com.

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