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Not Theirs to Occupy

Gary North
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Oct. 28, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street!"

What does this mean?

Does it mean that people can block off the street known as Wall Street, so that no one can go to work? If it means this, then the movement is based on violence: not allowing people access onto public sidewalks. It has determined that "first come/first served." This was not what voters expected. This is not what the law allows.

I reply: "Move aside. I want by."

Does the phrase mean that the protesters are threatening to block traffic in the streets? For how long? Whatever applies to the sidewalks applies to the streets. The streets are for automobiles. Maybe a few policemen on horseback. That's it, except for making moving pictures, where the city gets paid, or a one-time protest, which is protected by the First Amendment.

I reply: "Apply for a permit."

Does the phrase mean shutting down a system of voluntary exchange? Does it mean occupying the New York Stock Exchange's facilities? This would be a violation of private property. On what philosophical basis would such an exercise of violence be allowed? On what legal basis would it be allowed?

I reply: "When you are asked by a security guard to leave the building, leave."

Does the phrase mean steal from the rich? I realize that virtually the whole of modern political economy recommends this to one degree or another. I am waiting for its justification philosophically or morally. This video does not explain this philosophical or moral case.

I reply: "Thou shalt not steal."

Does the phrase mean "regulate Wall Street"? The Securities and Exchange Commission and dozens of other government agencies have done this for over 70 years. If there is a problem, why aren't these people protesting in front of the SEC or the Federal Reserve Bank of New York?

The problem with Wall Street as a slogan for the financial sector is that people who have shared the protesters' view of the financial sector have pressured governments to regulate the financial industry for over 70 years. The idea that the government is a reliable agency for directing the flow of capital has been demonstrated in full public view for 70 years. This includes the fall of 2008.

The sign of an insane person is someone who does the same thing over and over when it does not produce the results he hopes for and expects.

My reply: "Either read Human Action or see your psychologist."

Does the phrase mean "capitalism is corrupt"? If it does, why would they want to occupy Wall Street? Why not just get Congress to shut down all the banks, the brokerage houses, and the investment funds in America? Could it be because Is Congress is in bed with Wall Street? Then ask the voters to vote out their Congressmen. Or could it be that we can buy these services outside the United States if it becomes illegal to buy them inside the United States? Are they planning to shut down the Internet? Are they planning to impose capital controls?

I reply: "Why are you here and not in Washington?"

Is the phrase merely a slogan? Slogans are fine. People should pay to promote their slogans. If they are using street scenes for television broadcast purposes, then they should not disrupt other people's lives as a way to attract the TV cameras.

I reply: "I also have a slogan: 'laissez faire.'"

Wall Street is not theirs to occupy. It would be nice if I could persuade the protesters of this principle. But, all things considered, I would prefer to persuade Congress. Congress won't go home just because it's ten degrees below zero on Wall Street.


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