Crony Capitalism and the Occupy Wall Street movement (In favor of OWS)
November 22, 2011
Topics: Occupy Wall Street;
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has been extremely vocal in its protests against corporate greed and the wide gap between rich and poor. The movement is outraged by what it sees as an unfair wealth disparity between the top 1% of Americans and the other 99%. This income gap is real, but there has always been a significant gap between the richest and the poorest. In 2011, income inequality is actually lower than it was in recent years. This fact helps highlight what the OWS movement is truly upset about. They are not outraged specifically because of the income gap, but because of how the wealth was attained.
Most OWS protesters would not have a big problem with a business owner who paid fair wages to his or her employees, charged fair prices to customers and whose success came from diligence, honesty, and hard work. In the United States, successful entrepreneurs are usually celebrated as heroes who make the country work.
The problem the OWS movement sees is the fact that many of the wealthiest people in the country have acquired their money unfairly, using unscrupulous methods. In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. government spent well over a trillion dollars on various economic programs. The biggest of these programs were the Troubled Asset Relief Program, (TARP) which cost $432 billion (although its original budget called for $700 billion) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which cost $787 billion.
These two programs, along with tax subsidies for favored businesses, put money directly into the hands of the richest Americans, many of whom had contributed to the financial collapse of 2008.
The OWS movement is angry about this government favoritism, and uses the phrase "crony capitalism" as a label for every time the government bails out a selected bank, or chooses one business to rescue and another to fail. This kind of favoritism is harmful for small businesses, because they can't compete with big businesses that receive special government favors. This creates a situation in which certain banks and large businesses are rewarded by the government even if they create bad policies that hurt ordinary Americans. This kind of government corruption is out of step with U.S. history and the mainstream consensus of ordinary Americans.
If business or bank owners want to make money, and do so fairly, the OWS movement will not vilify them for it. The movement exists because for several years the government has been using taxpayer money, or deficit money, to pay those who are already rich, while doing nothing for ordinary people.
This article expresses a viewpoint that supports one of the aims of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Do you agree? Disagree? What is your opinion of the movement? Do you have a suggestion or a solution for the problems discussed here? Leave your comment below.