“Don’t Pick Sides!”

Clark Ruper, who is the VP of Students for Liberty, has a very good point to make vis-a-vis the Occupy Wall Street movement (for once, the bolding is not mine!):


A lot of the discussion lately has focused on whether Occupy Wall Street  (OWS) is good or bad for liberty, whether they favor more or less government, and similar questions.  While these are valid questions to ask, it is important to consider how we insert ourselves into the conversation.  The protesters have already framed the debate; it is them versus the corporate/political elite (99% vs 1%).  We have to move within that framework and in doing so find the most useful way to get a libertarian message across.

When the topic is government and corporations abusing power, neither of the two institutions are righteous. Rather, all parties are wrong for various reasons. Don’t pick sides! Too often we libertarians find ourselves defending corporations in our attempts to defend free market capitalism. These are the vary same corporations that often fight for and benefit from eminent domain abuse, bailouts, special tax code loopholes, protective tariff and import quotas, licensing laws to keep out market competition, and a whole host of corporate welfare programs. The analysis of corporations being moral is overly simplistic. While there are many corporations that play fair, there are clearly many that abuse their power.

That last line is officially the understatement of the week.

The good news is that messages like this are coming more to the fore, as I mentioned previously. Even though some vigorously deny that the Tea Party and the Occupiers are on the same thing (as my Facebook wall indicated to me last week), they really are two sides of the same coin. The Tea Party decided to go after the politicians in Washington, while the Occupiers wanted to go after the business leaders in New York. Yes, the Occupiers have the wrong idea about what to do with this problem, but they’re directing their anger in just the right place.


One question I have that doesn’t seem to have been asked before is: What line do we draw between government, government sponsored enterprises, and private businesses? How much public money turns a private entity into a public one? With the exception of certain entities devoted to housing, I haven’t seen this pop up. But we should ask the same questions about any entity that has dealings with the government: universities, big banks, “green” energy companies, nonprofit organizations, etc. Anything that takes taxpayer dollars is being paid for by the public, rather than surviving on earning the cash of customers. When we have no choice but to fund it, it really isn’t private anymore. But what’s the line? When should the public be electing their boards?

There’s a discussion we should be having.

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