We are the 1%

The Occupy Wall Street protests have, at least to some degree, begun to metastasize in other cities around the country, including some which don’t have much of a footprint in the financial industry. But Chicago certainly does have a long established presence of the “big money fat cats” and has become the target of some protesters’ ire. It seems there’s an understandable sense of frustration with all of the accusations being hurled that way and, wisely or not, somebody appears to be sending a bit of a message in return.

Image Credit: USAanon/”T”/OccupyChicago

Occupy Chicago 1% Banner
Occupy Chicago 1% Banner

Someone at the Board of Trade is getting cheeky with the Occupy Chicago protests. This photo was taken by someone at the protests. It shows offices at the Board of Trade Building eight stories up with “We Are The 1%” taped to the windows. If only someone could hurl rocks that high.

Organizers at Occupy Chicago, in their hyperbole, have called this “Wall Street’s 1st Large Scale Response in Chicago.”

I’d be curious to know if anyone in management authorized the impromptu display. While the sentiment may be understandable, it’s not exactly the best public relations ploy one could imagine. But still, it does help to refocus the question on not just what it is that the protesters are upset about, but who their anger should be directed at. Over at Outside the Beltway, my friend Doug Mataconis summarizes this nicely.

There’s something pretty immature about blaming other people for your situation in life. There’s no question that the incestuous relationship between business and government is a bad thing, that’s why I’ve said repeatedly that the answer is to get the government out of those situations where it is entering into “partnerships” with business and picking winners and losers through direct and indirect subsidies. Those are the situations in which business is indeed taking advantage of taxpayers and it ought to be stopped, but to a large degree that won’t happen unless and until we drastically reduce the size and scope of government involvement in the economy.

In the fourth of his six part series, Prejudices, H.L. Mencken spoke of the dual nature of the great American experiment as the “conjoined twins.” This is the pairing of the free market in an open society with the entrenched, two party legislative system which seeks to simultaneously encourage and regulate them. In essence, he posed the question as one of inevitable outcomes. We set up a free market, capitalist system and told entrepreneurs to go out and make as much money as they could. At the same time we allowed them to fully and freely participate in the process whereby those who might hold them in check were selected. Should we really be surprised, then, when they took off and became incredibly wealthy?

In that light, perhaps the protesters should take some time out during the next lull in the action and read up a bit on this, reconsidering where their efforts should be directed. You’re staging your attacks on the icons of Wall Street. If you really want to protest somebody, shouldn’t you be camped out on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC?

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Beege Welborn 8:01 PM on February 03, 2023