Occupy Camp Runamuck

Shared from Barron’s Magazine, October 17

By Thomas G. Donlan

Occupy Wall Street? The protestors should occupy the place that’s the real source of their problems—Capitol Hill.

Protestors Needed Urgently at a Different Site

We sympathize with the lost souls occupying public parks in New York, Washington and other major cities. Who doesn’t like a parade? Who doesn’t like to sit in the sun with new, like-minded friends? Who doesn’t like to grouse about things that are out of their control? Any excuse will do.

Capitalism, however, is a poor excuse. It is also a poor target for far-reaching “reform” of the type that gives new powers to government.

The boils and carbuncles on capitalism did not grow there naturally. The flaws of American capitalism, especially of its big financial firms, were created by a public-private partnership between big government and big business.

No matter how big, business lacks the power to control its customers, unless it derives that power from a government that limits competition in the market. However bad monopolies may be, they don’t last without help from government regulators, ostensibly promoting “the public convenience and necessity” but actually barring competition and fixing prices.

Some of the young protestors occupying a park near Wall Street are upset about their overwhelming student loans, which they can’t pay back unless they have jobs, which they lack, which is a problem they blame on banks. Those who put their lifetime earnings in hock to take courses that didn’t prepare them for any earthly career ought to be looking at the source of their student loans. Uncle Sam’s tuition assistance and low-cost loans actually enriched their universities and empowered administrators to charge more and more for less and less education.

In the housing debacle, the predatory lenders were officially sponsored. Few Americans would have lost homes they thought they owned if they had been renting all along, rather than responding to the tax breaks, cheap money and rising prices fostered by the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., the Federal Housing Administration and the rest of the national housing-finance cartel. There would have been no real-estate bubble and therefore no bust if Uncle Sugar had not sweetened the pot.

Occupy Wall Street? The protestors should occupy the place that’s the real source of their problems—Capitol Hill.


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