Support The Occupying Protesters
Why are Americans clogging intersections in large and small cities from New York to Portland? In my opinion, it really isn’t too complicated. The protesters are desperately trying to show the nation that they believe the American people are no longer being fairly represented within the economic structure of this country. In the past few weeks, we have all seen network footage that seems intent on ridiculing and marginalizing these people, and we listened to a variety of elected and nonelected voices question the purposes and importance of the protesters. But I believe that the focus of these communicators should be on the fact that these people have been left with few choices, and they are tired of being victims. Which begs the question, victims of whom? If you ask them, they will point to the banks and other financial institutions, Congress, past and present Presidents, the Federal Reserve, and large corporations, but I think the answer is far broader. While most of us are not protesting, I think we are all victims. We live in a society that has been borne of a culture in which greed has been permitted, and often encouraged, with little concern for overall social accountability – the consequences of one’s behavior. This was not the intent of our founders. John Locke (1632-1704) greatly influenced our Constitution, as well as much of our Western political philosophy. Dr. Locke was fascinated with how the rules of human nature influence the rules of moral behavior and how they interacted. Locke was an important thinker on individual liberty and personal rights, and was respected by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. Dr. Locke balanced the individual’s actions against the consequences of those actions using a moral compass that he called THE NATURAL LAW: "No one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” To paraphrase, don't pursue a goal whereby you make a victim of someone else. Locke made the point that for an economic system to work it must protect individual rights, but it cannot work if that system exercises those rights without respect for the rights of others. I believe that our system is failing because the majority of our institutions have no regard for, or feel any social responsibility for, the country as a whole. America’s corporations have lost their moral compass, and if you suggest this they cry socialism. Corporations – and those who run them – simply have all the money and power to influence anything they want, and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision put the icing on the cake. Our representatives have permitted it, and our Supreme Court has enshrined it. In her book Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand said that there is nothing wrong with greed, and I agree. Greed is the energy that motivates us to get out of bed in the morning. But where is the counter balance to greed? What is it that prevents those seeking their own agendas from trespassing on the rights of other individuals, to make them victims for their own benefit? In her book, Rand described a Western society in which government over-restricted the rights of entrepreneurs, and the entrepreneurs walked away to prove that without them the engines of production would stop. I wonder what she would say today if she were to see a nation in which the entrepreneurial class has become the bureaucrats – albeit indirectly through influence and election. What would Rand think if she were to see a nation in which one entrepreneurial class had the ability to pass, or greatly influence, whatever legislation facilitated their corporate goals simply by throwing more lobbyists and money at the issue, with no social considerations applied to their desires? Where in our current culture are the social goals that ensure that pursuing greed does not mean making victims out of Americans? Who is protecting us? Who insures that there is balance?