Thursday, November 17, 2011

[LIFE] your guide to the 99%

Unless you've been living under a rock (like I do), you must have heard about the "Occupy" protests. You might consequently be wondering what the protests are about. You may even have googled the topic. Unsuccessfully, of course, because nobody knows what the protesters are protesting about. They're basically a group of self-proclaimed "average Joe" types, as evidenced by their refrain "we are the 99%".

Along with a long list of other demands, they want rich people (the 1%) to be taxed more. I am against this proposal, not because I'm in the 1% (I probably earn vastly less than the average protester), but for the simple reason that it is economically absurd. After all, the 1% can simply move to wherever they are taxed less. The U.S. is not the only place where business is being conducted. A country can efficiently tax only those individuals who are relatively inflexibly stationed in it. In other words, the 99%.

For the most part, the protests are simply about disgruntled individuals broadcasting the fact that they are unhappy. Now, I'm not saying it's OK for people to be unhappy, but they should consider that perhaps they are partly responsible for their situation. Sure, banks extended them adjustable-rate mortgages they could never pay after the "adjustment". But they signed off on it and borrowed the money, cognizant of the risks. Repeated attempts to create a "safe" economy where everyone would be happy have failed in the past -- they simply made everyone safe and miserable. Until they collapsed, making everyone very unsafe and consequently highly miserable.

My suggestion is simple: until we have a workable replacement for capitalism, let's not protest capitalism. Recent hardship may not be the fault of capitalism itself. It could very well be the combined effects of diminishing natural resources and reduced quality of human capital. No system can defeat the GIGO principle: garbage in, garbage out.

So, what are protesters shouting into society's collective ear these days? Do they have a plan for a replacing the current economic system with one that produces happiness from garbage? What kind of change are they trying to effect by "occupying" the system? That's right, "N/A"! They don't actually have a plan -- they just know that they're unhappy and the system is responsible for making them happy. Protesters seemingly expect the system to figure out what's wrong with itself and replace itself with something better. All on it's own. Unfortunately, few systems can diagnose themselves and nothing likes to be replaced.

Incidentally, while we don't fully understand what the protesters are trying to do, we know some of the things what the protesters are not trying to do -- they're not trying to better organize their lives, they're not trying to learn new skills, they're not trying to find jobs, etc. We know they're not trying to do any of these things because any of these things would easily take up all of the time that they spend protesting.